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All Blacks lose No. 1 ranking, but coach Steve Hansen unfazed

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen dismissed concerns about losing their No. 1 world ranking yesterday as he concentrated on a World Cup selection conundrum after demolishing Australia.

Despite scoring five unanswered tries to retain the Bledisloe Cup with a 36-0 romp in Auckland on Saturday, the All Blacks lost the top ranking for the first time in 10 years, replaced by Wales, courtesy of their 13-6 win over England in Cardiff.

But Hansen, who will be finalising a 31-man squad in 10 days, said it was the Sept 20-Nov 2 World Cup in Japan that mattered, and not world rankings.

"I've never understood the (ranking) system. You win a game and you lose the top ranking," Hansen said.

"We just need to get ourselves in the right frame of mind to go to the World Cup and win that."

After the 47-26 hiding by the Wallabies in Perth two weeks ago, Hansen axed three established players - Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane and Owen Franks.

Their replacements Sevu Reece, George Bridge and Nepo Laulala produced eye-catching performances, prompting Hansen to say that several players staked their claim for a ticket to Tokyo.

"Now we've got some genuine competition and it will be good to see how it unfolds," Hansen said. - AFP

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