New Zealand have insisted they won’t be taking minnows Uruguay lightly in Thursday’s World Cup Pool A clash, but Ofa Tu’ungafasi has let slip on the real thoughts in camp.
The three-time winners need to win to qualify for the quarter-finals and the party line coming from the All Blacks has been that Uruguay are a serious threat.
It is a Uruguay team that lost 38-17 to Italy, whom the All Blacks have just trounced 96-17.
Most people are expecting a similar one-sided romp on Thursday, despite New Zealand’s insistence that Los Teros are formidable foes.
But that mask slipped a touch on Wednesday when bulky prop Tu’ungafasi spoke with refreshing honesty.
“For as long as I’ve been playing, one of the toughest challenges of the week is preparing for a team that you know will be easy to overcome,” said Tu’ungafasi.
“When that happens you tend to leave stones unturned, you take it easy on some areas,” the 31-year-old added.
In fairness to Tu’ungafasi, he was trying to explain the All Blacks’ mentality and how they manage to maintain their performance levels when the challenge facing them is limited.
And he was quick to revert to the well-honed All Blacks script when faced with teams that are about to spend 80 minutes as cannon fodder.
“For as long as I’ve been in this environment… no matter who we play, our attention and our focus is to go out there and play to our standard and have a performance that we can be proud of,” he said.
“And it’s no different for this week, last weekend and previous weeks: we raise our standards and try to be better.”
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images