Execution the key for All Blacks in Cup opener

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But at the same time New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said the All Blacks would have to expect quite a few things from South Africa who would be devising aspects of their game to test their long-time rivals in unexpected ways.


It was also important not to get too clever, he said.


"Rugby games are won just by people doing their own job really, really well and hopefully you don't have to pull something out of your back pocket. The job is done because you've done your role well," he said.


Hansen said the All Blacks had improved since their draw with South Africa in Wellington earlier in the season. But South Africa would also have improved.


There wasn't too much between the two teams based on recent results. Under coach Rassie Erasmus, who took over the Springboks in 2018, their defensive system had changed a lot.


"They roll the dice big time. They're fit. To be able to roll the dice like they are they have got to be fit," he said.

Rolling the dice was his description of South Africa's tactic of having their wings rush in off their flanks in defensive plays, something, he said, the South Africans were very good at.


"You want them to roll a couple of ones rather than a pair of sixes," he said.


"South Africa will give us opportunities because they roll the dice. Are we good enough to take them? Will the weather conditions allow us to be able to take them? They're all things that we'll have to wait and see," he said.


Coping with their system involved being patient, having the right depth, a decent kicking game and the right intent.


While the game with South Africa was a tough start to the tournament, all the games were challenging depending on the goals sought from each game.


"Clearly this is going to be a big match because it is the All Blacks v South Africa and it is traditionally a massive match anyway. Logic would tell you that whoever wins this game probably wins the pool. But as we found out in 2011 you don't have to necessarily win the pool to get in the final. France did it the other way.


"So it's not the end of the world and it doesn't mean you're going to win the World Cup or get in the final because you win this game. There's a lot of water to go under the bridge but having said that because it's South Africa it will be a big game.


"There'll be a lot of people nervous; media and fans and a few rugby people as well I would say. Both teams will have that nervous energy that's really good for building good performances," he said.


Weather concerns couldn't be controlled and it was a case of being prepared for all eventualities.


With a wet ball, either from rain or humidity, skills would be important, Hansen said.


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