First Maoris win gets thumbs up from new coach

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Lynn McConnell     04 Nov 2017     Getty Images

McMillan said he was 'really happy' with the performance.

"It's no easy feat to come halfway across the world and put in a performance like we did. We didn't get it all our way and Canada were quite in the game in lots of areas," he said.

The side's set-piece play had been crucial, the scrum was dominant while they were able to launch plays from their lineout control.

"I'm really happy with the forwards' performance but the backs played their part as well. There's still a lot to work on, there's no doubt about that. But, as a starting point, with a lot of new guys, I'm really happy," he said.

The yellow cards to flanker Dan Pryor and centre Tim Bateman were down to sloppiness, he said. They had been looking to use their line speed to put pressure on the Canadians but they had been sloppy in those instances and he was confident they would have that sorted before next week.

The defensive effort, especially when playing 20 minutes with 14 men, had been effective and they had created a base to build on.

McMillan said the coaches would be looking for more accuracy in next weekend's game in France. They had scored some nice tries from the good platform they had created and they just needed to tidy up some areas and be more efficient and ruthless with their ball to get an improved performance.

He was delighted with the way the new players to the side performed. Those who came on as substitutes had given new energy to the performance and had achieved what the coaches asked them to do.

"I'm sure they'll reflect on this day with a lot of pride and build from here," he said.

McMillan said lock Jackson Hemopo was deserving of the player of the day award, especially on debut, because he had been enormous in the set-pieces and he carried hard and was relentless in defence play.

"He continued on from what he's done in Super Rugby and Mitre 10, he's a real soldier," he said.

Captain and hooker Ash Dixon said they had a few things they wanted to prove after the Lions loss earlier in the year. They had been very direct in the first half and they had created a lot of pressure and opportunities that were borne out in the second half.

He said he had no problem with the yellow cards, they had to chop around the ankles and be better in that area.

"I think when you lose a man you've got to be a lot smarter in how you play and tactically you've got to try and play in their half to create pressure and we created a bit around our scrum and lineout so I think that paid dividends in the second half," he said.

He was delighted with the side's new caps because they had a big week both with their Maori kaupapa and whakapapa and their rugby but they had contributed well and he hoped they could build on the Canada performance.

More speed would be something they would work on this week with the aim of using the ball more.