Rugby World Cup 2019: Coach Steve Hansen taking no chances in World Cup opener

NZ coach Steve Hansen is willing to play every card he has to beat the Springboks anfd avoid becoming the first All Blacks team to lose a World Cup pool game.

Saturday's opening game promises to be the most challenging game they've played in the early rounds, especially considering their recent history against South Africa.

So often the All Blacks have weak opposition in pool play, so they build to the quarters and don't show all of their aces. 

But against a team that's beaten them and drawn with them in their last two trips to New Zealand, Hansen isn't willing to do that, even though he admits losing this game is not terminal to their World Cup chances.

"You've just got to use them up and then keep finding new ones," said Hansen of those trump cards.

There's never been a question before about whether the All Blacks will top their pool, until now.

"There's that knot in the stomach," said lock Sam Whitelock. "You don't know what that first one is going to be like regardless of whether you've played an opposition before."

Any nerves aren't because the Boks' pressure defence has caused them plenty of problems recently.

"I don't agree that they have the wood on us," said assistant coach ian Foster. "They'll be feeling confident. They think they have the formula and we have to show we have learnt some lessons too."

Springboks prop Trevor Nkayane agrees.

"It's a different ball game," said Nkayane. "It's a new game. The ball can bounce anywhere."

But even if the All Blacks don't win their pool, Hansen insists he's not going to panic.

"We found out in 201, you don't have to necessarily win the pool to end up in the final. France did it the other way. It's not the end of the World."

Or their World Cup, as Saturday's mouth-watering game against the Springboks headlines a blockbuster opening weekend.

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