Steve Hansen has stood his ground in response to critics who believe his 51-man squad featuring eight new caps has devalued the All Black jersey.

Hansen said the notion that international caps are being handed out before being earned was “nonsense”.

“We play so many test matches now and we play so many Super Rugby games that it’s nonsense when you hear people say they didn’t give test caps away like this years ago,” Hansen said.

“Well, they only played four or five test matches and probably six or seven provincial games. Today we’re playing 14 or 15 test matches alone and you just can’t ask the same people to do it all the time and play to the level we’re expecting them and asking them to play at.”

Hansen named a new-look squad to take on Japan this weekend, which included debutants Dalton Papalii and Matt Proctor in the starting lineup and six uncapped reserves, all members of the 19-man wider group named at the beginning of the tour.

“Over the last few years we’ve looked at ways of trying to skin the cat and last year we split the squad to Argentina and South Africa and this year the opportunity to play the Bledisloe up here was too good to turn down because of the opportunity to experiment and get a feel for Japan,” Hansen added.

“The idea of actually having two weeks here was better than having one. Hence was asked to play Japan and once we decided that then it was a matter of saying righto, how is that going to affect us against England, Ireland and Italy, and we chose to say right, we’d like to bring some extra players.

“It cost us nothing because the game was an extra so we’re winning everywhere really when you think about it. We’ve giving some guys really valuable experiences; we’ll get to see whether they can cope. This is a young side, there’s no disputing that, but the expectation is they go out and play and play really well.”

The All Blacks kick off in Japan this weekend before heading to Twickenham to face England next weekend.


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