Publicly at least, the All Blacks could be on a hiding to nothing in their second World Cup pool match.

The top ranked team against Canada, world No 22, necessitates a wide blowout is expected by all in sundry.

Anything less and New Zealand's anxiety beads will no doubt come out in force.

Oita's impressive roofed stadium, which will host two quarterfinals and remain closed for kickoff in this match unless the typhoon off the Japanese coast changes course, only fuels potential for the All Blacks to run rampant.

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Canada did, after all, lose to Italy by 41 points last week.

Steve Hansen naming a much stronger side than many expected also gives rise for a potential record margin against the Canadians.

Beauden Barrett and Sam Whitelock during warm-up drills at the All Blacks training session in Beppu, Oita, Japan. Rugby World Cup 2019. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Beauden Barrett and Sam Whitelock during warm-up drills at the All Blacks training session in Beppu, Oita, Japan. Rugby World Cup 2019. Photo / Mark Mitchell

For the All Blacks, though, this two-game block, with Namibia to follow four days later, is about everything other than the final scoreline.

As Hansen stressed at this same point four years ago, the pool stages are about forming gradual growth steps.

That's why the All Blacks retained Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett, to give their twin playmakers more time to hone their combination with those around them.

It's also why they have roomed together this week.

"It's given us a good chance to talk about things that aren't related to footy," Mo'unga said. "It all helps when you're on the field to create a special bond, a friendship, so we can trust each other and we're confident in what we're trying to do."

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The blueprint and building blocks stretch much wider than Mo'unga and Barrett's influence, though.

The challenges heat and extreme humidity are having on matches here is widely evident.

This alone is where the All Blacks should soak up lessons.

Scotland's 34-0 victory over Samoa suggests this was a cakewalk but the handling in that match in Kobe was terrible at times. That's almost solely due to the sweat on hands, arms and the ball.

Oita Stadium has large pockets of open air at both ends but the roof may still capture heat and moisture.

Elsewhere we've seen the success Japan had in their stirring upset of Ireland. Playing at such a furious pace, passing at every opportunity and chasing width throughout, Japan left Ireland out on their feet in the final quarter.

In a more structured, controlled manner, this is where the All Blacks are attempting to continually evolve their game too.

Gilbert Enoka, Ian Foster and Steve Hansen chatting during the All Blacks training session in Beppu, Oita, Japan. Rugby World Cup 2019. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Gilbert Enoka, Ian Foster and Steve Hansen chatting during the All Blacks training session in Beppu, Oita, Japan. Rugby World Cup 2019. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

A 10-day gap between their opening win over the Springboks and this match has allowed the All Blacks to endure heavy conditioning sessions in these foreign conditions.

Other than individuals, the likes of Rieko Ioane, Sonny Bill Williams and Jordie Barrett, seeking to impress, Canada presents another chance to grow their collective understanding of what could prove successful later in the tournament.

"We've got to keep building combinations and the tactical side of our game," All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said. "We've got to learn about the conditions in this country.

"Clearly the games have been influenced by the humidity and how you play with the ball and what sort of game you fit around that.

"The Canadian game gives us a fantastic opportunity to try and grow where we are at."

So, sure, it's fine to expect the All Blacks to dominate Canada in a fashion they would any New Zealand provincial side.

But before diving off the deep end, perhaps look a little closer at what they're trying to achieve and ponder how that could work against, say, Ireland in a quarterfinal.

There's always more than meets the eye with the All Blacks.


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