October 3, 2019 / 1:21 PM / 20 days ago

All Blacks were 'stuffed' in stifling humidity, says Hansen

TOKYO (Reuters) - Playing under the roof in a stifling Oita Stadium had taken a physical toll on the All Blacks, who were “stuffed” but there were no concerns about injuries as they head into their Pool B match against Namibia, coach Steve Hansen said on Thursday.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Pool B - New Zealand v Canada - Oita Stadium, Oita, Japan - October 2, 2019 New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen smiles after the match REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

The All Blacks beat Canada 63-0 on Wednesday in Oita, although the scoreline could have been much higher had they converted numerous try scoring opportunities throughout the match.

Two that highlighted the difficulty in holding onto the ball in the humidity was when lock Scott Barrett dropped it while he was over the tryline, while his brother Beauden spilled it as he tried to hold off a defender.

That opportunity in the final few minutes of the game, showed how tiring it could be playing in the conditions, Hansen said, with Barrett one of the quickest players in world rugby and seemingly clear only to get run down by Canadian defenders.

He dropped the ball when he was changing its position to try and fend off the defenders.

“We came through last night’s game really well. No injuries, other than a few bumps and bruises,” Hansen said on Thursday after they had relocated to Tokyo.

“(But) you just had to gauge how stuffed (exhausted) they looked after the game.

“If Beauden Barrett can get caught from behind, he’s reasonably stuffed.”

The All Blacks performance was a mixture of high-precision rugby at pace and poor decision making and execution and Hansen had said after the game there were still things to work on ahead of Sunday’s game against Namibia in Tokyo.

Hansen conceded he knew little about the Africans before the tournament started but had gauged enough from their defeats by Italy and South Africa to sort out a game plan that combated them and continued his own side’s progress.

“They’re not a team you see a lot on TV, we’ve obviously seen them through the tournament so we’ve got enough info on them now to be able to come up with some strategies,” he added.

“But in games like this, the key thing is about ourselves, how we turn up - what type of attitude we have and what sort of intent.

“We’re continually trying to improve what we’re already doing and there’s one or two other little things that we’ll introduce.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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