Hansen welcomes 'road bumps' as All Blacks pushed by Lions
By Greg Stutchbury
AUCKLAND, July 9 (Reuters) - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has welcomed the "road bumps" his side encountered in the drawn test series against the British and Irish Lions and believes the experience would help them as they build towards the next World Cup.
The series was locked at 1-1 after the third test ended in a 15-15 draw at Eden Park on Saturday, following a dramatic overturning of an All Blacks penalty by referee Romain Poite in the final two minutes.
The world champions, however, had plenty of opportunities to seal the series, particularly during the 24-21 second test loss in Wellington when they played almost 60 minutes with a man down and again on Saturday in the series decider.
The Lions, however, had put them under immense pressure for sustained periods of the series, something they had not really experienced in the last five years.
"We have got some good (lessons) from that," Hansen told reporters on Sunday. "From a long-term perspective it put us under pressure and some adversity and we had to deal with that mentally.
"There are plenty of positives to come out of that."
Some pundits in the rugby-mad country have been quick to condemn the drawn series with the New Zealand Herald's Chris Rattue saying Hansen's team had gone backwards during the Lions series.
"We have witnessed an epic series and an epic failure for Hansen, not because he lost - which he kind of did through a series draw - but for the way the All Blacks played," Rattue wrote on Sunday.
"The All Blacks have been so bad in some areas that a World Cup re-think is inevitable, which may be no bad thing."
Hansen, however, said that people needed to take a step back and realise how good the Lions team had been.
"We're used to winning everything. But that's one of the reasons this has been a great series. People get a wee sense of reality. There are other teams out there who can play rugby," he said.
"It's pretty disrespectful to think just because we've drawn a series we've gone backwards.
"People have just got to stay calm and trust we know what we're doing.
"We had a bump in the road against a well-coached team full of quality athletes, but you want a few road bumps, because somewhere they're going to hit you and you need to know how to deal with them." (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)