Ben Smith All Blacks v Italy cancellation: It’s all about adaptability as New Zealanders miss out on game time

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All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock says everyone is frustrated the All Blacks v Italy game was cancelled.

OPINION:First things first. The All Blacks will be undercooked for their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal next Saturday night in Tokyo. They just have to hope that even half-baked they will be too much for Ireland, Japan or Scotland to handle.

The back-to-back champions’ preparation for the first knockout match of this now heavily contentious global tournament was thrown into turmoil with the controversial – but understandable – decision by World Rugby to cancel the two Saturday pool matches most affected by Super Typhoon Hagibis.

That was the All Blacks’ closing Pool B fixture against Italy in Toyota – expected to cop a lashing from the typhoon – and England’s last Pool C affair against cross-channel rivals France.

Ben Smith Sam Whitelock says the All Blacks just have to adapt to whatever obstacles are put in front of them.

PHOTOSPORT

Sam Whitelock says the All Blacks just have to adapt to whatever obstacles are put in front of them.

The England-France cancellation was relatively painless, with both sides guaranteed to progress to the quarterfinals anyway and Les Bleus seemingly content enough to sidle through as No 2 seeds for a quarterfinal matchup against Wales.

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​But the historic cancellations have upset the Italians who were a long shot to make the quarterfinals, providing they took care of the small matter of beating the All Blacks with a bonus point, and other things went their way. They are ropable to have been denied at least a crack.

Ben Smith Ben Smith scores a try for the All Blacks against Namibia.

KENJI DEMURA/PHOTOSPORT

Ben Smith scores a try for the All Blacks against Namibia.

Regardless, the All Blacks box on and must now make the best of the hand they’ve been dealt. They haven’t played a competitive test since the tournament-opening 23-13 victory over the Springboks on September 21 and will run out

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