Steve Hansen won brownie points for suggesting the occasion
was not purely about the All Blacks securing a win.
There was an overwhelming sense of the All Blacks not
wanting to publicly dissect their 42-10 victory against Italy.
The post-match commentary was polite, bland and decidedly
on-message as far as the game's supporters would be concerned.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen preferred to talk about the
performance of the Italians rather than delve too deeply into
where his own troops might have some issues.
He also won serious brownie points for suggesting the
occasion was not purely about the All Blacks securing a win -
there was also a wider obligation to promote rugby in Italy,
something that most definitely happened on their last visit,
"The 70,000-odd people who watched the game would have gone
home with the idea that rugby is a great game," Hansen said.
"This was much better than last time we played [in Italy] and
I'm very thankful for that.
"We are conscious of the fact we are here to make Italian
rugby popular, as well as come here to play a test match, and
I think today that has happened.
"I'd like to congratulate Italy on playing a great game of
rugby. I thought their attitude to the game, their
physicality to the game and their commitment to the game was
Hansen probably felt he did not need to labour the points in
regard to his own team. There was a general lack of cohesion
and accuracy that denied them the chance to build momentum.
The resilience and ability of the Italians was a factor, too,
but the All Blacks will know they need to be more clinical,
particularly at the tackled ball area where they failed to
protect halfback Aaron Smith on too many occasions.
The video analysis will show they were not as effective or as
targeted as they needed to be in that area. There will also
be concerns about their first-up tackling which was again
suspect in patches, while the decision-making post line-break
was often fuzzy.
The reluctance to dwell on the negatives may have also partly
been because, while it was a struggle and while there were
long periods of inaccurate rugby from the All Blacks, they
did stay with the game-plan and earn some reward for that in
the final 10 minutes.
"I'd like to congratulate our guys," said Hansen.
"This group of players haven't played for three weeks so
although today was at times a bit rusty, I thought they
showed a lot of composure, particularly in the first half.
"I thought we met the challenge of the Italians and finished
particularly strongly and played some tidy rugby."
- Gregor Paul, Herald on Sunday.