All Blacks coach Steve Hansen pragmatic after Springboks win

New Zealand coach praises beaten South Africa after ‘titanic struggle’ in Yokohama

New Zealand’s outhalf Richie Mo’unga makes a try-saving tackle on Cheslin Kolbe. Photograph: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty

New Zealand’s outhalf Richie Mo’unga makes a try-saving tackle on Cheslin Kolbe. Photograph: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty

 

Steve Hansen hailed his side’s first win of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in defence of their title, but maintained that the equation still hadn’t changed. No less than the Springboks, for the All Blacks to win the tournament again, they will still have to win their remaining matches.

“Everybody knew that this was going to be a big match and obviously it was. Both teams played very well at times and fortunately for us we came out on top. It was another titanic struggle. Hopefully the people watching enjoyed it and got excited by it.”

Yet as for the ramifications of their 23-13 victory over the Springboks, Hansen reiterated: “I talked about this the other day. For us to win the tournament we’ve got to win every game.

“For South Africa to win the tournament they’ve got to win every game, and we’ve got to do the same. And nothing’s changed in that respect after tonight.”

South Africa stretched New Zealand to a 20-18 win in the sem-finals four years ago after losing to Japan in their opening match, and while no team has ever won the World Cup after losing a match in the pool stages, Hansen countered: “History’s a great thing but it’s there to be broken. Their (South Africa’s) mindset from now is that every game’s a final, and it’s the same for us. So yes, they can do it.”

The All Blacks head coach was also pragmatic about his side’s performance when asked how he would assess their wellbeing now.

“We won didn’t we, so you’ve got to be happy with that. Were we perfect? No, but you’re never going to be at this stage of the tournament. That was the interesting thing about this game right from the get go. We’ve come out on top of it and very happy that we did but there’s plenty of stuff we can work on.

“It was really hard for us early in the game. The boys adjusted through the game, and got more fluid. But it’s always going to be a titanic struggle. You can’t strike if you don’t get TQB, which is top quality ball at the set-piece.”

Akin to Argentina against France beforehand, South Africa looked down and out when 17-3 down at half-time, but as Hansen said: “They’re never out of it. They’re always a team that will come back. They don’t die, they stay in the fight.”

One of the key turning points in the game was the tackle by Richie Mo’unga which prevented Kolbe Cheslin from bringing the sides level in the second half.

“Well it was a match-winner probably, or close to it. Rich got back and saved that one, so it was a pretty big moment. But that’s what rugby’s about, trying to win the moments.”

There appears to have been an issue with the removal of Sam Cane with suspected concession, although Hansen said the flanker has passed his HIA.

“The best I can tell you is that an on ground official felt he had overdone his time for the (HIA) test. He passed the test he was good as gold, but we’ve had a chat to the match commissioner. They are going to have a yarn about it and hopefully rectify the situation that happened today for future games.”

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