'It allowed us to pick and choose how we play'
REACTION: Early forward dominance allowed All Black halfbacks Cam Roigard and Damian McKenzie to run the show in a 71-3 hammering of Namibia in the World Cup in Toulouse on Friday, according to New Zealand coach Ian Foster.
Roigard and McKenzie each scored two tries, with the latter also hitting eight conversions for a personal tally of 26 points.
The pair were a constant threat all over the pitch in Toulouse, Roigard often the catalyst in a dynamic display in just his third Test.
“It was a game we had to win,” Foster said in reference to the All Blacks losing their opening Pool A game 27-13 to France.
“We tried to establish ourselves up front and we got that dominance pretty early which was key to the game.
“It allowed us to pick and choose how we played after that, but obviously we are delighted with the result and it is a step forward.”
New Zealand captain Ardie Savea added: “Damian McKenzie and Cameron Roigard controlled the game well, McKenzie was finding space and Roigard’s running game was exploding around the breakdown, it was awesome.”
The one blip was a late red card for replacement prop Ethan de Groot for a dangerous tackle.
“It’s always frustrating,” said Foster. “My experience is you’ve got to go away and let it breathe for a bit. There’s a lot of emotion around it.
“We will have a look at it, there was a lot of shoulder-on-shoulder in that contact, but we will see what comes from it.”
* (Continue below …)
Foster added that the victory was “a job done well. We went in there with a clear idea of how we wanted to play the game”.
Roigard, the coach said, “played really well. He had a pack in front of him that gave him the platform”.
“He took his opportunities, he should be very proud of it. It was a big start for him and he certainly took the opportunity.”
Man-of-the-match Roigard said the experience had been “pretty surreal”.
“The atmosphere was outstanding. We are fortunate that our forwards were dominant, giving me a good platform to play off,” the 22-year-old said.
“Myself and Damian McKenzie have had some training groups together, we are working out how we like to play and his attacking play suits mine so I really enjoyed it tonight.”
McKenzie added: “It was an opportunity not so much to prove a point, but to get out there and play my game.
“I was able to do that tonight at times, there were a couple of loose things, but it was great to get out there and play some rugby.”
Namibia coach Allister Coetzee said he was left proud despite the 11-try beating, extending the African country’s losing streak at seven World Cup tournaments to 24 matches. The closest they’ve come to a win was a one-point loss to Georgia in 2015.
“We always pride ourselves on fighting back,” the ex-Springbok coach said.
“Set-piece, line-out and mauling is crucial. They came at us with their driving maul and they were outstanding.
“They were just too good for us. I’m pleased we created opportunities. We’re not converting them, but we’re learning from these top Tier one nations we’re playing.”
New Zealand backed “their skill set… individual guys taking on the opposition”.
“Behind a solid set piece they use the width of the pitch and that’s what they did today.
“Our World Cup is starting, we’re building for the last game and we have our objective in sight,” Coetzee said, referring to their final pool game against Uruguay in Lyon on September 27.