All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has demanded an improved performance from the world champions in tonight’s Pool C clash against minnows Namibia.
Hansen is keen to quickly move on from Sunday’s showing against Argentina and has challenged the defending champions – who have made 12 changes from the win over the Pumas — to go up a gear in their second outing of the tournament.
“What happened the other day is in the past,” he said.
“Each team has to prepare in its own way. One of the things that we pride ourselves on is trying to improve our performance from the previous one. We have a line in the sand as far as the game against Argentina goes.
“The group going out on Thursday have to change that line to a higher performance level. It does not matter who we are playing.
“That’s our focus.”
Tonight’s clash will be the first time the All Blacks have faced Namibia and Hansen insists his side will take nothing for granted against the minnows.
“We will give Namibia total respect because that’s what they deserve as another playing nation,” he said.
“Rugby is a funny thing and sport is a funny thing. If you don’t prepare properly then you can get a hiding.
“We can’t just assume that Namibia will lie down because they won’t. The World Cup has already shown that in previous ones and this one.
And Hansen expressed huge regard for opposing captain Jacques Burger who was voted into the team of the tournament at the last World Cup.
“He is a pretty special player,” Hansen said.
“I think at the last tournament he was in the top five players. To be able to do that in a team that was not always going forward as a loose forward, you have to be pretty good.
“He is totally committed. If you are going to be in his part of the park and you are carrying the ball then you better get ready to get smashed. You have to admire that in him.”
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