New Zealand will be encouraged to temper their excitement at reaching the Rugby World Cup final and not spend too much time and energy looking ahead to the deciding game at the Stade de France next Saturday, said forwards coach Scott McLeod.
New Zealand romped past Argentina 44-6 on Friday to win the first of the two semi-finals this weekend and now wait to find out whether they will meet either England or South Africa to decide who goes home with the trophy on Oct. 28.
But the All Blacks must not get ahead of themselves, said their former international McLeod, whose work on the Kiwi defence at the tournament has earned praise.
“Probably not playing the game too soon is the biggest challenge,” he told a press conference on Saturday of the Kiwi plans for their last week in France.
“Players will be excited from the start of the week but we’ve got to make sure that we stay in the moment and then slowly build the excitement throughout the week.
“We’re definitely not going to be bashing each other. We won’t be doing anymore or less, we’re comfortable with our week. Now we know how to prepare well, and what each day needs to look like.”
The All Blacks’ confidence had been boosted after they beat Ireland in the quarter-final and then had a comfortable win over Argentina in Friday’s semi.
“In the pressure moments, the boys are trusting each other, trusting what we’re doing and how we’re going about it,” he said. “That can be make or break in a pressure moment when you trust the system and trust the people around you, or you trust the guy to do his job and therefore you think you can do yours.
“Particularly in defence, when you don’t trust and you go out on your own, that puts the system under pressure.”
Also, restricting Argentina to two scores from first-half penalties in Friday’s semi-final was a source of pride for the defence coach.
“That’s always very pleasing. The boys care a lot about holding the opposition out, they’re working really hard for each other,” McLeod added.
“We had Argentina running really hard and directly at us and cleaning us out quite quickly, so we had to deal with that. It was pleasing that we were able to defend a different style of play.”