One month into the Super Rugby season and already a trio of emerging stars have grabbed the attention of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
Unlike previous years when established All Blacks were accused of slow starts, an extended break and genuine preseason following last year’s World Cup success has seen most incumbents return fit and firing for their respective franchises, with the exception of Hurricanes wing Julian Savea who was dropped to work on his fitness.
But, just over two months out from the first of three home tests against Wales in June, it’s a new crop of talent that has Hansen cautiously optimistic about filling the void left by six veteran All Blacks.
Form in March is one thing, though. Hansen makes it clear consistent performances as Super Rugby edges closer to the business end of the season will reveal much more about the ability of players to make the next step up.
“There’s some guys that we’ve been watching for a wee while that have been impressive. Charlie Ngatai, Elliot Dixon and Damian McKenzie are all playing well. There’s also some others,” Hansen said. “It’s just a matter of sitting back and watching and seeing if they can sustain it. When the real pressure comes on later in the season can they do it then? That gives us a better idea of whether they can do it at All Black level.”
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