Hansen expects All Blacks to be even better

New Zealand may have dominated the 2016 Rugby Championship but Steve Hansen is confident the All Blacks can be even better this year.

Hansen's side won all six of their matches 12 months ago, scoring 262 points while only conceding 84 as they finished 17 points clear of second-place Australia.

Their two wins over Australia helped complete a 3-0 whitewash of the Wallabies in the Bledisloe Cup, but their November internationals started with defeat to Ireland.

They bounced back with four successive wins in Europe before a scintillating drawn series with the British and Irish Lions.

Australia are their first opponents of this year's Rugby Championship on August 19 in Sydney, and Hansen is confident his side are in a better position than they were a year ago.

"Last year I felt, actually we all did - the coaching and management group - that we were just hanging on," he told the New Zealand Herald.

"And a lot of that was because of the experience we had lost [in 2015]. If you look at it in a simple way, we lost four or five A-plus-plus guys after the World Cup.

"So our B-plus guys stepped in and that is not too big a jump. But you need your C guys to jump up to being B guys and that can be difficult. Our leaders shouldered a lot more responsibility than they normally would because we had Conrad [Smith], Ma'a [Nonu], Kevvy [Keven Mealamu], Richie [McCaw] and Dan [Carter] not there.

"I think mentally that was taxing. I think we will be in better shape because we have had 12 months of getting those new guys more confident and settled."

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