Looking to bounce back from a tournament-opening defeat to hosts France in Paris, the All Blacks want to replicate South Africa’s run to the World Cup title in Japan.
New Zealand were comprehensively beaten in the World Cup opener against Les Bleus, their second successive loss after a record defeat to the Springboks at Twickenham in a warm-up game.
The loss has put World Cup history against the All Blacks.
Only South Africa has lost an opening World Cup fixture and rebounded to win the tournament – the Springboks were beaten by the All Blacks in Japan in 2019, but won all of their remaining fixtures to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.
As New Zealand look to get back on track against minnows Namibia, centre Jordie Barrett admitted that what the Springboks did in Japan is giving them hope.
“You only need to look at what happened four years ago,” Barrett told reporters in Lyon. “South Africa were world champs and they lost the first game and got a few lessons in that game that put them in great stead for the rest of the tournament and we’re looking to do something similar.
“It’s hot here at the moment and we probably didn’t adapt to those conditions as well as we could have last weekend. We’ve seen teams in the last few days do that as well. Teams without the ball are going a long way to winning some of these Test matches, kicking a lot, forcing a lot of mistakes, it’s so hard to hold the ball.
“George Ford (England flyhalf) kicked 27 points with 14 men on the park and he was outstanding and the Welsh made over 200 tackles and an attacking side like Fiji couldn’t cross until the last quarter just because it’s so greasy.
“We found in our game there was only 27 minutes of ball in play which was pretty crazy really. In a match we would like that number to be a bit higher and bring some fatigue into the game and potentially reduce those water breaks, so we can use that to our advantage a little bit more.”
Barrett sat out the opening fixture due to a knee injury and his presence in New Zealand’s midfield was sorely missed.
“It’s coming along pretty good,” he said. “A slow 10 or 14 days but it’s on the improve. So, just day-by-day. It’s a funny one really, it’s come on out of nowhere in the past couple of weeks. Just a joint injury and a bit of inflammation but I am getting there and making progress each day.
“I got through today really well which is positive and got through some running. I didn’t do any running last week at all, just been on the watt bike.”
Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP