‘Not perfect’: what must the All Blacks do to please Steve Hansen after thrashing Springboks?
New Zealand posted a 57-15 over South Africa in the Rugby Championship on Saturday in Durban
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen refused to get carried away after a 57-15 demolition of arch-rivals South Africa created two records and moved the All Blacks within one victory of another.
“It was a better performance than the last one [winning in Argentina],” said the hard-to-please former policeman who masterminded the 2015 World Cup triumph in England.
“However, it was not a perfect performance so we will not get too carried away,” was his summary of the nine-try romp at Kings Park Stadium in Durban.
“We will enjoy the moment because we managed to play some quality rugby and make some people proud.”
Hansen was speaking soon after the All Blacks beat the Springboks by a record margin, bettering the 52-16 thrashing they dished out in Pretoria 13 years ago.
It was also the first time in four Rugby Championship title-winning campaigns that New Zealand secured a maximum 30 points, which was achieved through six bonus-point triumphs.
New Zealand clinched the southern hemisphere championship after only four rounds, leaving South Africa, Australia and Argentina trailing in their wake.
Success over the Springboks, who collapsed in the second half after being only 12-9 behind at half-time, also moved the All Blacks within one victory of a world record 18 in a row.
Watch: South Africa v New Zealand highlights
And few pundits would bet against the Kieran Read-skippered men in black winning again when they host Australia in Auckland on October 22.
New Zealand previously achieved 17 straight test victories in 1969 and 2014 and South Africa matched the feat in 1998.
Loose forward Read, successor this year to retired legend Richie McCaw as captain, said he had felt for some time that his side were capable of delivering a special performance.
“We came close in a few matches last year without ever quite getting there,” he said after winning at a ground where New Zealand lost five of eight previous tests.
“To come to South Africa and achieve a victory like that was amazing. We cannot help but be excited by our performance tonight.
“The All Blacks are a great bunch of men and I am privileged to be leading them. I am loving the way we are playing right now.”
South Africa coach Allister Coetzee admitted he was “hurting” after the humiliating mauling.
“I am hurting and I know what pain feels like. I have been in similar situations before,” he said following a record defeat in 93 Tests against their greatest rivals.
“This group (current squad) will have to turn things round. Seeing our supporters leaving the stands before the final whistle was not a pleasant sight.
“There will be no excuses from us -- the All Blacks are a world class team and we are not at the same level yet.”
Coetzee became the second black coach of the Springboks last April after Heyneke Meyer changed his mind about seeking a second four-year contract.
Although he guided South Africa to third place at the 2015 World Cup in England, Meyer was widely criticised at home by the public and media for “pre-historic” tactics and failing to give black stars a chance.
“We gave our best, but sometimes your best is still not good enough,” admitted Coetzee after a Test in which his team conceded seven second-half tries having trailed only 12-9 at half-time.
“That was the case in Durban tonight. The players and coaches worked hard this week, but we have to take a hard look at ourselves. We are the only ones who can turn this around.
“There are not many players out there that can really strengthen our squad,” insisted the coach who has lost five of nine matches in charge, including two at home.
“We have to look at a number of areas, including our kicking game and our aerial skills.
“As a country, we lack certain skills and that is something we all need to work on.
“We are under constant pressure to win Tests. We are between a rock and a hard place.
“We need to blood players at the beginning of a new four-year cycle, but we cannot experiment too much. We are embarrassed, but we need to stand up and show we have fight left in us.”
After hosting Australia, the All Blacks set off on a four-match November tour, starting with a test against Ireland in neutral Chicago.
They will also face Italy in Rome, Ireland in Dublin and France in Paris, raising the possibility of a 22-match winning streak by the end of the year.
In November, South Africa face the Barbarians in London, England, Italy and Wales during an end-of-season tour.