AUCKLAND (Reuters) - New Zealand produced their best performance for some time in their record 57-0 rout of South Africa, according to coach Steve Hansen, but he felt they still had plenty to work on as the All Blacks progress towards the 2019 World Cup.
Hansen’s side ran in eight tries and produced a physical defensive effort to win the collisions and slow down the Springboks’ ball at North Harbour Stadium to hand the visitors their worst test defeat.
It was also only the fifth time in the 94 tests the two sides have played since 1921 that South Africa were kept scoreless. One of those games ended in a 0-0 draw.
Despite Saturday’s scoreline, Hansen and captain Kieran Read both said the Springboks had been hugely competitive for large parts of the game, with the All Blacks taking their time to get into the match.
“At the start we were a bit jittery,” Hansen told reporters. “Once we got into the rhythm of the game we played probably as good as we have played in a long time.
“We have seen a pretty good performance and that’s because the South Africans forced that out of us. The scoreboard didn’t really reflect the difference between the two sides.”
Prior to Saturday’s demolition of the Springboks, the All Blacks have been somewhat enigmatic this season.
At times they have produced periods of play that made the rugby world hold its breath for the audacity, while in the same game making far too many errors and allowing sides back into matches.
Hansen went to great lengths in the lead up to Saturday’s clash to explain that the inconsistency could be put down not only to other teams getting better, but to his own side suffering their own growing pains.
The message the 58-year-old imparted during the week was to trust the coaching team and players because they were working to a plan, would get it right and be ready for the next Rugby World Cup in Japan — something he felt was shown on Saturday.
“We are trying to get better all the time and have been trying to work on a lot of things,” said Hansen. “We were pretty clear with how we wanted to play and a lot of things came off.
“The team is growing and the belief is growing. That gives you a lot of confidence as a team.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ken Ferris