Hansen: ‘Lions now two squads’

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen highlighted the differences between the Lions side facing the Maori All Blacks and the side who fell to the Highlanders when addressing the media on Thursday.

The Lions "mid-week" side have lost to the Blues and Highlanders so far, with a side closer to resembling Warren Gatland's Test side defeating the Crusaders last weekend.

A similar outfit has now been named to take on the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua, confirming to Hansen that the Lions are beginning to settle into two different groups.

"There is a clear difference between the two teams, the Wednesday team and the Saturday team," Hansen told AFP.

"There is definitely a difference between the two squads in the way they're performing.

"I think he is about to bring a few extra players out to give himself the ability to play two squads. He's at the stage where he wants to do that."

Focussing on his own side, Ben Smith will lead the All Blacks when they take on Samoa at Eden Park in a warm-up on Friday to help prepare for the first Test against the Lions at the same venue on June 24.

"We want to start the ball rolling and get away to a good start and whatever we do on Friday night we'll be able to improve on the following week," Hansen said.

"Whilst the Lions is a dance that's happening in the background, and we're watching that with interest, there's a responsibility to the jersey and those that have been before us, that we go out and take this Test match seriously and respect Samoan rugby."

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