All Blacks have 'room for improvement'

Steve Hansen (Gallo)
Steve Hansen (Gallo)

London - The All Blacks have "plenty of room" for improvement and have not reached their potential, coach Steve Hansen said on Tuesday ahead of a three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions.

Hansen told The Times the squad were breaking in new players and re-establishing themselves after the loss of stars such as Dan Carter. 

"I am very happy with where we got to at the end of 2016," said Hansen. 

"Has it reached its potential? I don't think so. I still think there is plenty of room for us to improve.

"Clearly we lost a lot of experience and leadership after the World Cup in 2015 so last year was about re-establishing ourselves and putting a marker back in the ground about how we want to be and I see this year as a continuation of that," said Hansen. 

He dismissed fears that flyhalf and rugby world player of the year Beauden Barrett may not measure up to the Lions' kickers. 

"I don't think we've lost a Test match through his goalkicking," said Hansen. 

"People are panicking because he's not goalkicking for the Hurricanes. 

"I don't care (that he isn't the Hurricanes' first choice kicker). I know he can mentally cope with the task of goalkicking in the arena. 

"As long as he is doing his training and going through his skill acquisition of goalkicking through the week, then it doesn't worry me if he is goalkicking on Saturday or not." 

The Lions, whose only Test series victory in New Zealand was in 1971, arrive on Wednesday at the start of a nearly six-week tour.

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