Hansen won't wield axe

Steve Hansen isn't going to swing the selection axe in the wake of the All Blacks' 23-18 loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane.

The All Blacks' selection panel, which comprises Ian Foster, Grant Fox and Hansen, will on Monday confirm their 37-man squad to tour the northern hemisphere and although a number of players' reputations were dented at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night there will be no immediate repercussions.

"I probably could have told you the touring squad before tonight, and it hasn't changed," Hansen said as he ruminated on the end of the All Blacks' seven-match winning streak against the Aussies on the soggy Suncorp pitch.

Apart from loosehead prop Kane Hames not returning to the field after he failed a head injury assessment in the first half, the All Blacks' escaped major injuries; instead the ice packs had to be placed over their wounded egos.

No-one can begrudge the Aussies this win on the slippery rain-lashed venue. Hansen accepted the result, knowing full well his side had been done over fair and square.

Unlike the previous encounter against the Aussies in Dunedin, when Beauden Barrett scored the winning try in the dying seconds, the All Blacks lacked the composure, made mistakes and were out-hustled in the rucks by the Wallabies.

First five-eighth Lima Sopoaga, who started because regular playmaker Barrett was recovering from concussion symptoms, wasn't able to assert himself in terms of getting the backline humming, some of his kicks didn't stress the Aussies enough and he gave away the pass that led to Reece Hodge scoring his intercept try.

Sopoaga, who was replaced in the 61st minute by David Havili who went to fullback to allow Damian McKenzie to move up to first-five, wasn't the only one at fault, but as the man who calls the shots, he was always going to be under scrutiny.

"There were a few things I could put my finger on but I won't talk about them here," Hanen said in reference to the performance of the backline. "We will talk about them when we are sitting around video footage as a team.

"But if a team doesn't click between your forwards and your backs, which we didn't tonight, I think we really struggled."

Poor ball presentation and some ill-considered decisions while under pressure from the Aussie defenders compounded the All Blacks problems.

Assistant backs coach Foster was cautious in his assessment of Sopoaga's performance.

"Like Steve said, we weren't that smooth from the set piece through to the backs and that combination it just didn't flow in those conditions," Foster said.

"It was a tough day to be a 10. The Wallabies struggled a little bit in that area too. It wasn't a game that comes naturally to Lima but he will certainly learn from it."

Apart from an early play where Waisake Naholo came off his wing in a set-move that resulted in him blasting through the confused defence, the All Blacks' creativity was lacking.

Fullback Damian McKenzie was not the attacking force he had been in Cape Town a fortnight earlier, unable to create chaos when running the ball back from the deep.

Hansen won't be happy, but nor will he be too distressed. Given he was without locks Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano, both unavailable for personal reasons, and Barrett was not fit he knows he can bolster his team with more firepower.

Blindside flanker Jerome Kaino is waiting to be picked again, but props Owen Franks and Joe Moody are injured, as is outside back Israel Dagg, while fullback/wing Ben Smith is on sabbatical.

"There's a lot guys (for who) that is their first loss in the All Blacks jersey," Hansen said.

"It's an experience that you just don't wash away, you take the time to absorb it and learn the lessons from it."


Photo by: MATT KING/GETTY IMAGES Caption: Sonny Bill Williams passes ahead of a Kurtley Beale tackle.