Canada should not pose a significant threat to New Zealand when the two squads line up for their 2019 Rugby World Cup match, but the All Blacks never take any opponent lightly.
Canada is ranked No. 22 in the world, so they cannot be overlooked completely.
As the current holder of the Webb Ellis Cup, the expectation is that New Zealand will show no mercy and in the past, they have fulfilled that expectation by running up some huge score against hapless opponents.
The two squads have played five times and Canada is still looking for its first win. When they played in Auckland in 1995, New Zealand won 73 – 7.
Winning the opener 23 – 13 over South Africa’s Springboks served to settle any possible pre-tournament jitters any of the All Black players might have experienced, so all the New Zealand players need to do is put something like their best effort forward to coast past Canada.
Richie Mo’unga has emerged at five-eighth and has slotted in nicely after Beauden Barrett took up the role of fullback.
Mo’unga said that the key to remaining in control of the game was the proper level of communication between the players, captain Kieran Read, backs coach Ian Foster and Barrett.
“So that I am not out on the field isolated, and feel like I make these decisions on my own,” Mo’unga explained. These are the decisions that are calculated on what our game plan is, and what is happening out on the field. How many points we are behind, or how many points we are in front. Everything is thought about.”
No one from New Zealand should be required to do any thinking about how far they are behind Canada.
Steve Hansen has historically given his players some leeway to make decisions in the moment and his decision to slot Mo’unga at five-eighth and Barrett at fullback looks sound, although it should be said that when you have the All Blacks, most decisions will work out.