25 Jun 2012

All Blacks' dominance of Ireland creates selection issues

12:18 pm on 25 June 2012

The All Blacks Coach Steve Hanson says New Zealand's series clean sweep over Ireland will force team selectors to make some tough decisions ahead of the inaugural Rugby Championship.

Hansen was particularly pleased with the performances of the younger brigade in Saturday night's 60-0 third test win in Hamilton, singling out first five Aaron Cruden and debutants Luke Romano and Beauden Barrett.

He says even Liam Messam, who was called into the squad as injury cover, will be difficult to leave out of the next All Black team.

Corey Jane will also be available for the four nations competition, having recovered from a high ankle sprain and Hanson says he'll have to drop one of his wingers even though they've all played well.

The coach hopes the strong performance of newcomer Sam Cane will end the sleepless nights he's had over finding an apprentice for skipper Richie McCaw.

Because of injuries among the All Blacks loose forwards Cane started at openside flanker and McCaw at number eight.

But Hansen says that doesn't create any selection dilemmas ahead of upcoming tests against South Africa, Australia and Argentina.

He still rates McCaw as the best openside flanker in the world but believes having a backup in Cane will enable the 31-year-old McCaw to prolong his career.