When asked how Lam can crack the side, Hansen said “he’s just got to keep doing what he’s doing.”
“At some stage he’ll get picked,” Hansen told reporters at the conclusion of the squad announcement.
“If he has the resilience to keep appearing and playing as he is then he’ll get an opportunity.
“This time the difference has probably been because Wise [Waisake Naholo] and Rieko [Ioane] have both been there and they’ve shown us that they can play at that level, so therefore you’re going to go there initially and now they have to perform.”
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While not explicitly admitting that Lam would be the next cab off the rank, Hansen said Lam’s form has not been ignored.
“He [Lam] has to keep performing, and if Wise or Rieko – touch wood – hopefully don’t pull a hamstring but if they do then, wow, there’s an opportunity for somebody and it could be Ben Lam.”
Lam has been in career-best form this season with the Hurricanes, crossing for 14 tries in eleven games to lead the competition and come within one try of the Super Rugby single-season record. He also tied a Super Rugby record after scoring four tries against the Melbourne Rebels in week seven, the largest single-game haul.
Lam’s teammate and fellow outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder was included in the squad, despite appearing just four times this season.
When asked if there was any reluctance in regards to Milner-Skudder’s selection, Hansen said “we thought long and hard about it, but he brings something different to Rieko and Wise and Bender [Ben Smith], so we gave him the nod over not having him.”
“You look at the risk and the reward, it’s a position where – yeah, he hasn’t got a lot of miles under his belt as a player but usually in the back three you don’t need to, and therefore we were prepared to take the risk and take him without too much rugby.”
The All Blacks will play their first test against France on June 9 at Eden Park.
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