BEPPU, OITA PREF. – The All Blacks do not possess “plans C, D and E” to continue their global domination and would rather just make sure they execute Plans A and B at a level higher than any other team, assistant coach Ian Foster said on Saturday.
The three-time world champions are in the middle of a comparatively long layoff during their Pool B Rugby World Cup campaign with their next match against Canada in Oita on Wednesday.
They opened their tournament with a 23-13 victory over South Africa on Sept. 21 and after the intensity of that match, Foster said they were now using the 11 days between games to recover, build and fine tune their game plans.
Having beaten the Springboks, there is little chance New Zealand will not qualify for the knockout phases with the game against Canada followed by clashes against Namibia and Italy.
“The fact is a World Cup tournament is a completely different animal than a normal year,” Foster told reporters at the team hotel high on the hilltops above a seaside resort on Saturday.
“It’s about how you plan the growth in your game through those four games, so if you’re lucky enough to come out the other side you’ve ticked a lot of boxes when you get there.
“It’s not a matter of hiding stuff or going through plan C, D and E, it’s a matter of doing what we do and trying to execute it at a really high level and then maybe changing some of the options we take in certain areas.”
The All Blacks followed a similar tactic at the last World Cup in England where they faced a tough and resilient Argentina side before clashes with Namibia, Georgia and Tonga.
They then hit the knockout phase firing on all cylinders and thrashed France 62-13 before going on to beat South Africa and Australia to lift the Webb Ellis trophy.
Foster, however, recalled that the team was heavily criticized for some of its pool performances and coach Steve Hansen had to address the media at the time to try to ease some of the concerns of nervous fans back in rugby-crazy New Zealand.
“I learnt not to listen to criticism and to believe in the plan,” Foster said. “Not every plan goes the way you want it to go.
“But you don’t win this tournament by winning all your pool games, you win it by qualifying for the knockouts and having your game at a point where you are confident to go and win three games after that.
“We’re not here to try and win everyone’s approval in a pool we’re here to grow our game, get the results we need and be satisfied and battle hardened for hopefully a playoff game.
“That’s our sole goal.”