All Blacks welcome recovery time after physical opener

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Hooker Dane Coles said: "The boys are in good spirits, but pretty beaten up. It was a physical Test, the conditions were hot as well but we're pretty stoked to get things underway," he said.


There had been some nervousness in the camp ahead of the game, part of that being the two weeks preparation for the one game.


Coles said he didn't come out for the second half as he had a slight niggle in his calf. He had got through the week of preparation well but it had tightened up and he hoped the break until they play Canada would help him recover fully.


"We're really proud that we've made a good start," he said.


"They came out really physical in that first 10 minutes and we were throwing the ball around, we weren't really that settled and I think Reado [captain Kieran Read] just brought us in and said 'hold onto the ball and the nearest guy clean' so we could get a bit of momentum.


"Once we settled down we made a few line breaks and put a bit of pressure on them. The way that we adapted to it and once we got our system in place we showed some good signs," he said.


It was good to have the game under the belt, to have played the first World Cup game after all the preparation, he said.


"I thought our attack was a lot better. Obviously the last game we played they brought a lot of line speed and really put us under pressure and we didn't adapt that well and I think last night, at times – we still could be better, I thought we did that really well.


"It was little things, holding our leg speed, getting the ball away, I think that was quite promising as well and I think our defence as well. We scrambled hard, they made some really good line breaks and Richie [Mo'unga] made some outstanding cover on their winger so just that willingness to get back and make a tackle, never give up, was two promising signs for us," he said.


"It was a good start, but it was only a start."


The challenge ahead as they prepare for sides well below them in the world rankings was to give them all the respect they were due while preparing to play them as the All Blacks always did.


"They're at a World Cup, and they deserve to be at a World Cup and if we go in with a 50/50 attitude we won't have a proud performance," he said.


There was also the chance for those players who didn't play South Africa to go out and take their chance to create competition within the squad.


Coles said the play of Hurricanes teammate Ardie Savea had him in a special place at the moment and he had to be among the best players in the world.


"He's got a good heart, he's a good person and when he's on that field he's just doing everything he can to show what it means to be an All Black," he said.


Coles couldn't put it down to any one part of his play, it was just his all-round game and he was enjoying playing.


There had been a heavy emphasis on discipline in the lead-up to the game, especially knowing that Handré Pollard was such a good goal-kicker and Coles was hopeful they would be able to keep that up throughout the tournament.


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