All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says the cancellation of their final Rugby World Cup pool match due to Typhoon Hagibis was “a no-brainer”.
“Everyone knew this was a possibility and we all knew what the process would be if it did occur.”
“When you get a typhoon to the level we’re getting, then safety is the paramount thing, so it’s a no-brainer.”
World Rugby cancelled the All Blacks’ final pool B match against Italy earlier on Thursday, with the typhoon set to arrive in the Tokyo area this Saturday.
The All Blacks-Italy match was scheduled to take place in Toyota, 241km west of Tokyo.
Hansen’s side will finish top of pool B and now have an eight-day wait before their quarterfinal, which will be against one of Ireland, Japan, or Scotland next Saturday.
An All Blacks spokesman confirmed the team would be staying in Tokyo through the typhoon this weekend, but they are awaiting details on their accommodation from tournament organisers.
It is thought it is unlikely they will remain at their current accommodation in Tokyo Bay where they were due to depart on Friday morning, but the All Blacks spokesman said they had yet to receive confirmation of this.
Hansen said his team’s reaction to the cancellation would be crucial.
“The most important thing that happens now is how we adapt and adjust to it.
“The players have to get their heads round the fact we’re not playing and the coaching group have to get our heads round fact we’re not playing and adjust our preparation accordingly.”
All Blacks captain Kieran Read said that while the cancellation was understandable, it was also sad.
“Naturally we wanted to play. It’s sad because it’s a World Cup game that not only us, but the Italians will miss out on. But more so for the fans.
“You’ve got to understand the safety reasons why it’s been called off, we’ll adapt and we know we’re in next week.”
The All Blacks will not have played for almost two weeks when they take the field in their quarterfinal, but Read said that was just the hand they’d been dealt.
“Of course we’d want this game in terms of game-time and things.
“But we’ve been around this game a long time, trained a lot together and we’re ready to go next week.
“It’s got no bearing on how we turn up next week and we’re excited by it.
The All Blacks won’t know the identity of their quarterfinal opponent until Sunday, when hosts Japan are set to take on Scotland in the final pool stage match.
That clash in Yokohama is going ahead at this stage, with a final decision to be taken on Sunday, at least six hours before the scheduled kickoff [11.45pm NZ time]. If it is cancelled, Japan will finish top of pool A and the All Blacks will likely face Ireland in their first knockout match.
Hansen was asked on Thursday who he thought would win and replied: “If I knew the answer to that I wouldn’t be sitting here, I’d be straight down to the TAB”.
“I don’t know. Sport is so unpredictable at times. You would think the way Japan have been playing they would win. But you’ve got another team who have a really emotional reason to win because they have to.
“It could go either way. All I hope is they get to play and it’s a wonderful game of rugby because it will get something positive out of a weekend that hasn’t been too positive.”
This content was originally published here.