All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says he can’t predict whether the Rugby World Cup will be won by panache or percentages.
What he can say is there will be contests of massive intensity and doing the fundamentals well will remain the key to success.
“How you deal with that intensity will determine whether you can score tries or you just have to go and play safe,” he said.
“It won’t be won by playing airy-fairy rugby, though. You’re going to have to do the basics and the basics haven’t changed whether you play attacking rugby or kicking rugby.
“You still have to earn the right to go forward, you have to earn the right to compete by preparing well and you have to front up physically.”
The All Blacks begin their defence of the Webb Ellis Cup against Argentina at Wembley on September 20, when they are set to send out their strongest line-up.
“Argentina are the highest-ranked side after ourselves in that pool so we wouldn’t be wanting to let them win that game,” Hansen said.
“We certainly want to be picking the best team we can.”
The All Blacks then stay in London and have a short turnaround of four days before they face Namibia at Olympic Park, home of the 2012 Games.
Hansen said it was likely about 17 players would be involved in both matches, with three or four starting in both.
He confirmed that winger Waisake Naholo remained on track to be available for game three against Georgia on October 3.
Naholo was in superb form for the Highlanders this season with his power, pace and finishing.
But it seemed his World Cup dream was over when he suffered a lower leg fracture in his Test debut against the Pumas in Christchurch in July.
However, after returning to his native Fiji to get traditional treatment for the injury, he was a surprise inclusion in the 31-strong squad.
Hansen said Naholo was on target with his recovery.
“As every day goes past, he gets better and better,” he said.
“He’s on track to do what we’re expecting of him, which is to be available for Georgia.”