Saili bounces back in All Blacks debut
September 7, 2013
Francis Saili recovered from a poor start to put in a solid display on debut © Getty Images
Seeing the opposition score just four minutes into a Test after you've spilled a pass is a tough way to start your All Blacks career.
But inside-centre Francis Saili got a pat on the back from coach Steve Hansen for the way he bounced back in New Zealand's 28-13 Rugby Championship win over Argentina in Hamilton. Hansen rated the 22-year-old Blues midfielder's performance as "pretty good after his first wee dropsy". He believed Saili showed plenty of character in not going into his shell, as many others might have.
"I thought he carried well," he said. "I don't think he dropped the ball, after that he went into contact nicely for us at times."
Hansen said Saili also showed his kicking ability and "threw a lovely pass" in the move that led to winger Julian Savea's second-half try.
"Yep, he made one mistake, but he did a lot of good things too."
Saili came away from the match with what he described as mixed emotions.
"It was a bit of a slow start, but I started to adjust to what it felt like to play Test footy," he said. "I was happy with some of the carries and some of the things I did out there."
Saili said he was looking a couple of steps ahead, rather than focusing on the task at hand, when he dropped the pass that led to Argentina opening out a 7-0 lead. The thought that went through his mind when he saw No. 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon touch down was that he was lucky it was early in the game, and not in the 78th minute of a tight contest.
"But for me, it was just about moving on to the next task - don't doubt myself or doubt my abilities," Saili said. "Just go out there and prove I can bounce back."
The All Blacks overcame a slow start to defeat Argentina 28-13 in Hamilton (video available in Australia only)