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New Zealand vs Uruguay: Why Los Teros are not afraid

By Ian Cameron
Nicolas Freitas of Uruguay arrives at the stadium prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Uruguay and Namibia at Parc Olympique on September 27, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Playing New Zealand holds no fear for Pool A battlers Uruguay, who insist that they will be loving every minute of testing themselves against the biggest brand in the sport.

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Uruguay play the All Blacks on Thursday in Lyon and winger Nicolás Freitas can’t wait to have a cut off the sport’s most celebrated side. It will be first time the two sides meet and the first time the Los Teros face the haka.

“Today we had our last practice session. We will travel to Lyon and have the captain’s run there. It was under high temperature, both inside and outside, a high-intensity practice, with contact and intensity. We enjoyed it because it was the last one and we are taking full advantage of it.”

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“We are going to try, with the few opportunities of having the ball, to attack them. It is very difficult to play against and defend them,” said Freitas.

The South Americans beat Namibia 36-26 last Wednesday and are hoping to bring that confidence into the contest with Ian Foster’s side, who currently sit second in the group.

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“It was 50 per cent of our tournament goal. We were very happy because the team needed it, needed to win. It gave us confidence, enjoying a win in a World Cup that, although it seemed predictable, winning a game in a World Cup for Uruguay is not something so common.

“Now we are enjoying it to the fullest; it is the last week in France and we play against the All Blacks.

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“It’s the first game against them, yes. But until now, we have received a lot of support from Uruguay, gratitude for the World Cup that we have been building. Maybe playing this game is also about that. It is representing the Uruguayans in the best way and that they feel like they are playing with us.”

“It’s not scary. It’s knowing that playing on equal terms with the All Blacks is very difficult. That can happen. The pressure is not on us, we are going to enjoy it, and live a unique experience.

“We always like to measure ourselves against the best. The All Blacks have some of the best players, it doesn’t matter if it’s team one, two or three.”

“It’s going to be something that’s going to motivate us. It was motivating to hear the Marseillaise a cappella in Lille and that pushed us. The haka is going to have the same effect.”

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New Zealand play Uruguay at 9 pm local time on Thursday at Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon.

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Jon 1 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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