New prop's example inspired All Blacks

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Lynn McConnell     10 Jun 2018     Getty Images

Captain Sam Whitelock said, "It felt like the boys knew that was the time to really go for it, to dig deep and really go again."


They could feel earlier in the game that when they got the tempo into their game they played well.

"The first 50 minutes it took us a wee while to really work out where we needed to attack them," he said.

But once the messages got through they worked well through the scrum and the phase play as well.

Coach Steve Hansen said new prop Karl Tu'inukuafe, who had such a powerful impact in his first scrum, had proved he was of All Blacks standard.

"He made a pretty big statement first up. There's no better way to get the respect of your teammates and the opposition, so well done to him," he said.

"I never met Keith Murdoch but he's got a moustache like him and he scrums like him and he's pretty big round the chest. There's a lot of top end in Karl, he's just starting and we've got to make sure we don't blow him up by pushing him too fast, too early," he said.

Hansen said he thought the All Blacks were starting to get their rhythm in the last 10 minutes of the first half.

"We started to understand what we had to do which was look after the football and go forward and try and go through them a wee bit rather than try and go round them," he said.
They talked at halftime about how they could better do that in the second half and they had slowly picked them apart. Hansen said he didn't think they would score that many points but he was happy with the way they ended up playing.

Hansen said he didn't think the yellow card France got against lock Paul Guabrillagues was deserving of that penalty. His tackle had been high but he believed it wasn't worth a yellow card, he said.

He felt fullback Jordie Barrett would benefit from the Test. "He was a little nervous to start but he grew with it as the game went on. It allowed us to bring Damian [McKenzie] on later when everyone had been running around for a bit and he was able to punish them because of it," he said.

The All Blacks wouldn't be getting too excited about where they were at as a result of the win. It was only the first game of the season and there were plenty of lessons to be taken from it.

"We've got two more Test matches and you learn things from positive stuff and you learn things from negative stuff so it's important we do that," he said.

What the All Blacks were trying to do with their game was going to take some time and it couldn't be judged on the basis of the first 40 minutes on Saturday and while they had done a lot over 80 minutes their approach was still going to take more bedding down.

"What I was pleased about tonight was that we got excited and we played football. Half the forward pack hadn't played for three weeks for various different reasons; injuries, a couple of suspensions. We were a wee bit slow in the first 30 minutes of the game. Our reactions were a wee bit off and what I really enjoyed seeing was people as time went on got better and better into their game and got into the groove of it.

"Our basic style of game plan we wanted to play was there to see and did we execute it to the nth degree, probably not but it's the start of the race not the end of the race," he said.