All Blacks warn no let up against minnows Canada, Namibia
The All Blacks have warned there will be no let up in intensity when they play minnows Canada and Namibia next week as they fine-tune preparations for the World Cup knockout stages.
The three-times world champions have beaten Canada comfortably in the three times they've met in previous World Cups and whipped Namibia 58-14 when they met for the only time at London's Olympic Stadium four years ago.
Assistant coach Ian Foster said Saturday the All Blacks were clear about what they wanted to achieve playing the two lesser teams back to back.
They will field as many of the 31-man squad as possible, with a question mark still over injured lock Brodie Retallick, and aim in both matches to ratchet up the energy in the closing stages of each half.
Since opening the tournament by beating South Africa, their toughest opposition in Pool B, the All Blacks have balanced training sessions in the 10-day break with hard physical work and decision-making.
"We know in the last 20 minutes of halves that players are fatigued, particularly in these (humid) conditions, so it's a matter of getting them into that state and then challenging their decision-making," Foster said.
"We're trying to be really specific about what we want to achieve. It's not a matter of hiding stuff or going through plans C, D and E, it's a matter of doing what we do and trying to execute it at a really high level.
"Then it's a matter of maybe looking at changing some of the options we take in certain areas."
At the last World Cup, the All Blacks were often clumsy but still dominant in pool matches.
This drew widespread criticism - and suggestions the All Blacks were struggling - until head coach Steve Hansen later explained they were using each match to work on improving an area of weakness.
But Foster said they will show Canada and Namibia respect by performing at their best.
"It's not a matter of going into these games focusing just on what we have to get out of it and trying to hide stuff and surprise people later in the tournament," he said.
"It's a matter of respecting who you play and applying a game that you think is still good enough to play well against them and then after that making sure we tick the boxes that we think we need to grow in our game.
"We have a pretty clear plan for the two games ... You win this tournament by qualifying for knockout play and then having your game at a point where you're really confident to go out and win three games after that."
Foster said that from the public reaction to the way the All Blacks treated pool play on their way to winning the 2015 World Cup, he learned "not to listen to the criticism and just believe in the plan."