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Hansen impressed by versatile debutants

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/06/2017

Hansen says Barrett's two brothers sprang immediately to mind when he first joined the All Blacks. © Shutterstock Hansen says Barrett's two brothers sprang immediately to mind when he first joined the All Blacks. Gifted Hurricanes pair Jordie Barrett and Vaea Fifita pack enormous long-term potential according to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

Versatile back Barrett and athletic forward Fifita will both make their Test debuts if used off the bench against Samoa in Auckland on Friday.

Both have stood tall, literally, for the Super Rugby defending champions and have the raw ability to thrive in Tests, Hansen believes.

The lanky Barrett, 20, is the youngest of three brothers in the team alongside starting first five-eighth Beauden and reserve lock Scott.

Taken as an "apprentice" on last year's" season-ending tour, the time was right for another step up following a series of promising displays at fullback for the Hurricanes.

Hansen says Barrett "isn't a here and now man" but shapes as an outstanding long-term prospect, suggesting he won't feature heavily in the series against the British and Irish Lions.

Hansen says Barrett's two brothers sprang immediately to mind when he first joined the All Blacks.

"The thing I notice when they all came into the environment for the first time, is just how relaxed they are," he said.

"For a lot of people it's quite overwhelming, the scrutiny and the nerves that come with it.

"It's how you deal with the nerves. All three of them have been very good so far at exhibiting the right behaviours."

Fifita missed the first half of the Hurricanes season with injury but quickly found his feet at lock.

It's a position Hansen doesn't believe Fifita is best suited to, having named him to cover the loose forwards against Samoa.

A remarkable ball runner for someone of his height, Hansen says the sky could be the limit for the Vava'u-born 24-year-old who toured New Zealand with the Tonga schools side and was offered a scholarship at Auckland's Tamaki College.

"He's a good athlete, he's brilliant in the air, he's a good ball-carrier and he's a punishing tackler," Hansen said.

"So it's just a matter of getting Vaea comfortable, so he can go out and express himself. Whatever we see on Friday night, he'll only grow from."

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