Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen determined to unlock yellow-card challenge

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has taken the yellow cards handed to his players as a personal challenge to be conquered, if they are to win their third straight Rugby World Cup title.

Hansen was visibly frustrated after watching his team stumble about for 30 minutes against lowly Namibia - the lowest-ranked team at the tournament - on Sunday, before blowing them off the park for a 71-9 victory.

Particularly galling was the sight of front-rowers Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tuungafasi being sin-binned for identical head-contact tackles, when the ball carriers were falling into that contact.

In both cases, the punishment was entirely appropriate to the letter and intent of the law - but left the question, what else could they have done?

That's the poser occupying Hansen, as he and his brains trust prepare the All Blacks for the business end of the tournament, where yellow cards could cost them games.

"Most of the other tackle-technique stuff, we've worked on for years and we're OK," he told media on Monday. "The yellow cards, under the guidelines, were fair, but the game is incredibly difficult when those players are falling at your feet. 

"There are certain things we have to make sure we do… I won't go into a lot of detail here, because it's something we're working on and I'm sure everyone else is."

"It's being able to recognise quickly they are falling and how to pull out of a tackle or do the tackle differently.

"I don't know if it's avoidable, but we have to find a way, because the rules aren't going to change. We have to accept and adapt and adjust better than we have."

Hansen conceded a playoff match would likely be decided by a yellow or red card.

"I'd say so, but we all know what the guidelines are and we've all got to work hard at it. There's no point moaning about it - we just have to accept it and get on with it.

"If you've got a small technique problem, then you're vulnerable. Even if you've got great technique, you're going to vulnerable."

He also noted the most recent culprits were two of the biggest members of his squad - and not the most nimble on their feet.  

"Like anything, some players will be quick to adjust and others won't be. The ones that are a bit slower too, we'll have to work really hard with them," said Hansen, who used a nautical reference to explain the predicament.

"It's like a big boat versus a little boat, isn't it? Titanic didn't move quick enough and sunk."

But he was determined that yellow cards would not derail this All Blacks campaign, as they threatened to against Namibia.

"That's put our thinking caps on and now our challenge is to see how we can deal with it," said Hansen.

"The challenge for us - which is a good one, if you want to think about it positively - is how we can avoid those. Good challenge for 'Stormy' [assistant coach Scott McLeod] and myself and the rest of the coaching crew."

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