Henry: All Blacks on track

Graham Henry (AFP Photo)
Graham Henry (AFP Photo)

Hamilton - New Zealand coach Graham Henry said the All Blacks had dragged their World Cup campaign back on track Friday after their ruthless 83-7 demolition of Japan.

The former schoolmaster gave his injury-affected side eight marks out of 10 for the 13-try display and said the hosts were vastly improved from last week's nervy opening win against Tonga.

"I think we were better than last week, which was pleasing," said Henry.

"We improved our structure and we had players in the right positions most of the time. We didn't try to push the game too much... I thought we put our game together better than we did last week."

The All Blacks were missing the backbone of their team -- captain Richie McCaw, number eight Kieran Read, fly-half Dan Carter and fullback Mils Muliaina, all through injury -- but did not skip a beat at Waikato Stadium.

Conrad Smith kicked off the rout in just the fourth minute as 11 different scorers crossed for tries and stand-in fly-half Colin Slade recovered from an early wobble to kick nine conversions.

Substitute Sonny Bill Williams scored his first two All Blacks tries in his maiden outing on the right wing, while Richard Kahui also claimed a double from the other flank.

Henry said the overall performance was "pleasing" as New Zealand head into next week's clash with France, their nemesis in two previous World Cups.

"We're probably where we need to be," Henry said. "Obviously there's a few guys who need a run because they couldn't play today. That's a bit of a concern but you can't control those things. It's just the reality of the situation.

"We just want to get better each game and I think we got better."

Last week's 45-10 win -- when Tonga frustrated the All Blacks on the tournament's opening night -- was poorly received by a wary New Zealand public acutely aware of past failures on the sport's biggest stage.

Henry is under vast pressure to deliver New Zealand's first World Cup in 24 years after presiding over the disaster of 2007, when the All Blacks were shocked in the quarter-finals by France.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
loading... Live
India 217/10 & 170/10
New Zealand 249/10 & 19/0
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
40% - 15079 votes
12% - 4661 votes
19% - 7062 votes
3% - 988 votes
1% - 374 votes
2% - 907 votes
5% - 1915 votes
9% - 3266 votes
4% - 1357 votes
Water sports
1% - 345 votes
American sports
1% - 469 votes
3% - 1263 votes