trn/irs rugby shskills

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is showing faith in his fourth and fifth ranked first-five options.

Either Tom Taylor or Colin Slade will start Saturday night’s second Bledisloe Cup test in Wellington, with Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett joining Dan Carter in the casualty ward.

Hansen says both Taylor and Slade have the skill set to do what they need them to do.

“They’re confident people, and you’ve got Tom Taylor who’s a 90 per cent goal kicker and Colin’s a pretty accomplished goal kicker too.

“So they come with a lot of skills.”

He says Taylor and Slade have fitted into the squad seamlessly.

“Luckily enough Tom Taylor’s been to a couple of camps, Colin’s been 10 tests, been to a World Cup.

“So both of them are reasonably comfortable in the environment.”

Hansen says it’s a good challenge for the team.

“A bit of adversity doesn’t hurt anybody.

“We had some last week and people stood up and were counted, and that’s the expectation this week.

“We just get on with the job and those that are doing it will do it well.”

Aaron Cruden will be sidelined for two to six weeks with a knee injury, while the All Blacks are hopeful Barrett will be able to return from a calf strain for next month’s test against Argentina.

Lock Luke Romano will miss the remainder of the Rugby Championship with a groin injury.

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