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'All we've done is earn the right to go to training on Monday' - McCaw

The All Blacks will not be getting carried away with their nine-try victory.
Oct 17th 2015, 11:23 PM 7,169 11

Murray Kinsella reports from the Millennium Stadium

THERE WERE SOME mutterings of doubts about New Zealand during Pool C of this World Cup, but tonight’s stunning win over France at the Millennium blew them out of the water.

Brodie Retallick celebrates his try with Richie McCaw McCaw celebrates Brodie Retallick's try. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

This was the Kiwis underlining their status as World Cup favourites. Few sides can live with Steve Hansen’s men when they play with this pace, accuracy, aggression and skill.

The nine-try 62-13 victory over les Bleus earns New Zealand a World Cup semi-final against South Africa in Twickenham next weekend, a clash that will be eagerly anticipated.

“We were questioned by a few people, but the key thing was that the people who didn’t question it were in the group ourselves,” said Hansen post-match. “We trusted what we wanted to do and tonight was a reflection of where we’re at.

We had players who stood up and played well, but all we’ve done is earn the right to go to training on Monday. You can’t get too excited. South Africa are going to be our opponents, they’re great rivals and we’re good mates with them.”

There wasn’t even a hint of smugness about Hansen in the Millennium Stadium after his side had wiped the floor with the sorry French, simply a quiet satisfaction and a steely determination that this only the beginning.

Captain Richie McCaw echoed his head coach, focusing on what lies ahead rather than getting carried away with the stunning rugby his team played this evening.

“What happened tonight, we’re happy, but come Monday we’ve got to go back and start again,” said McCaw. “There will be three other teams with that same attitude. I’ve learned the hard way that you don’t get ahead of yourself.

“We played a grand final tonight and we’ve got another grand final next week. You get another chance after that if you do it right. We’re certainly not getting ahead of ourselves, but you’ve got to be happy with what we did tonight. We’ve earned the right to go training on Monday.”

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Steve Hansen Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The sense was that the Kiwis brought out their very best because of the nature of this tie, knockout rugby at the World Cup. Hansen certainly believes that was the case, as his vastly experienced group of players delivered when it mattered.

“It was a pretty special performance, no doubt about that,” said Hansen. “Did I feel it building? I said earlier in the week that there’s a difference between pool play and knockout play. Obviously it creates an edge in itself; if you don’t turn up, you go home.

Tonight, we turned up and the attitude plays a massive part in any sporting event. If you couple attitude with talent, you can do certain things.”

The rest of the World Cup will have watched on with some trepidation, although one senses that the South Africans will relish the opportunity to stop the Kiwis in their tracks at Twickenham.

Before he headed back to his teammates to calmly savour the victory, McCaw was asked about the incident that saw Louis Picamoles sent to the sin bin.

“I guess it was a bit of frustration. It happens,” said McCaw after laughing at the suggestion he had been targeted. “The ref dealt with that and we managed to put a bit of pressure on them because of it.

“We got the reward in the end when we were playing against 14.”

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Murray Kinsella

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