Rugby World Cup 2011
All Blacks won't chop and change
September 6, 2011
All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen is hoping the Kiwis can produce "something magic" against Tonga © Getty Images
New Zealand assistant coach Steve Hansen has revealed that the Kiwis plan to keep the changes to a minimum during their World Cup campaign.
The All Blacks are the overwhelming favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, primarily because of their enviable strength in depth. Given that their squad contains 30 top-class players, it had been anticipated that head coach Graham Henry would chop and change during the pool stages in order to protect star names such as Dan Carter and Richie McCaw for the bigger tests which lie in wait in the knockout stages.
However, Hansen says that the All Blacks will field near full-strength line-ups even in their games against perceived minnows Tonga, against whom they kick off their campaign on Friday, Canada and Japan. "There might be the same 10 or 12 (players) on a regular basis,'' he said. "We've got a group of players who are going to play a lot of the games, and there's going to be not a lot of games for some other people."
That is something of a risky ploy, not least because it could mean that players that might be asked to step in for injured team-mates might lack match sharpness and Hansen admitted: "How we do that is going to be interesting."
Hansen also confessed that New Zealand are hoping to open their campaign by producing something "something magic" against the Tongans.
"I think it's really important, and for the tournament's sake,'' he said. "When something magic happens, it starts the tournament well. It might be Tonga that does it, hopefully it's us.''
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.