New Zealand’s players were on the receiving end of a fearsome half-time dressing down from head coach Steve Hansen before they pulled away from Namibia to claim a 71-9 win at the Rugby World Cup.
Minnows Namibia comfortably exceeded expectations in the early stages of Sunday’s Pool B clash and trailed by just a solitary point after half an hour.
Converted tries from Angus Ta’avao and Ben Smith ensured the All Blacks were 24-9 up by the interval, but that did not stop Hansen from letting rip at his players in an aggressive team talk, which reaped rewards as New Zealand crossed seven times in the second period.
“It was one of the better ones and rightly so,” hooker Dane Coles was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald. “We deserved it so he got into the boys. It was direct, old school; it was bloody good. You don’t see too much of that these days so I was bloody enjoying it.”
Prop Ta’avao added: “We needed that and the boys came out firing in the second half and got back to being direct and looking after the ball.
“Hopefully we shouldn’t really need that from Steve again. I haven’t seen him [like that] in my short time in the black jersey, but I haven’t been in a side where we have started like that.
“It was good to see. Every coach needs to have that. You have to keep the boys honest when you need to. But hopefully that is the last time he needs to step in because it is our job as players to do our jobs.”
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 6, 2019
Speaking in a news conference, Hansen suggested a short turnaround following Wednesday’s win over Canada was a factor in the world champions’ poor first-half showing against Namibia.
“In the first half, we probably didn’t turn up with the right attitude and allowed Namibia to partake a lot more than they should have,” said Hansen. “That’s not being disrespectful to Namibia but we sorted that out at half-time and came up with a bit more direction and understanding of what we wanted to do, and played pretty well.
“I think when you have a short turnaround, like four days, you have to have two pretty soft training runs from a physical point of view, then it’s pretty easy to turn up not quite mentally right. And that’s one of the biggest challenges in sport, particularly when you know you’re gonna play an opposition that – and again, I’m not being disrespectful here – you know you should beat.
“Players and coaches and management can get a little bit lost in their mental preparation, for want of a better word. And when the opposition are right up for the game, it can look ugly and messy and that’s what happened in the first half.
“I don’t think it’s a major issue. I think it’s just something that happens in sport and it’s a good reminder to all of us that every time you play you have to get yourself mentally in the right head space to be able to go out and perform to the level you want to perform at.”
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