Steve Hansen admits minnows are on the up after New Zealand defeat Namibia

Steve Hansen admits minnows are on the up after New Zealand defeat Namibia

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen admitted the lower-ranked nations were catching up following his team’s 58-14 World Cup triumph over Namibia on Thursday evening.

The All Blacks ran out comfortable winners in the Pool C encounter at the Olympic Stadium – but in days gone by would have got closer to 150 points.

Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea scored two tries apiece, with Victor Vito, Malakai Fekitoa, Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith and Codie Taylor also going over.

However, the biggest cheer of the night came in the 50th minute when the ’no-hopers’ scored a try against the World Cup holders.

What a try it was too, the Namibians constantly attacking in one direction before suddenly switching for Johan Deysel to power over for a famous score.

There was to be no major shock here but an impressive display nonetheless, coupled with Japan’s victory over South Africa, signalled the traditional powerhouses were not getting things all their own way any more.

And Hansen said: “The scoreboards suggest that’s the case. When everyone was talking about record scores here, I said they were foolish.

“World rugby has put in a lot of money and effort to improve standards and the so-called minnows have played well so far.”

Namibia counterpart Phil Davies agreed the upturn in performances from the lower-ranked nations was no fluke.

He said: “When you look at Japan’s victory, they had been building that performance over a couple of years.

“I know the preparation Georgia have put in and we have put a lot of preparation in as well. The effort the players put in has been phenomenal.”

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