New Zealand coach Ian Foster says the All Blacks have a point to prove in their World Cup opener against hosts France, a match he feels is unprecedented in terms of hype even if it ultimately may not turn out to be hugely important.
The All Blacks were crushed 35-7 by South Africa in their final warm-up match at Twickenham two weeks ago and Foster, while downplaying the importance of that match, said he did expect a reaction from his players against France on Friday night (Saturday AEST).
"Do we have a point to prove? Yeah, we always do. I don't think you can ever hide from that," he told reporters on Thursday.
"We're a very proud team and we want to play well - and we're determined to.
"Then we'll really assess after that to see where we're at, and how we progress in this tournament."
New Zealand have won only one of their three World Cups on foreign soil and Foster said he was well aware of the enormity of the task facing his players if they wanted to match the feat of the 2015 team, who beat Australia in the final at Twickenham.
"The All Blacks have learned over history, you just don't turn up at a World Cup and get what you want just by being here," he added.
"You've got to do something special, and you've got to play well. And there's been a lot of good All Black teams that haven't been able to achieve that."
After spending so long preparing for the tournament, Foster said, the All Blacks were desperate to get out onto the Stade de France pitch in front of a sell-out crowd of 80,000 fans at the Stade de France in Paris and show what they could do.
"We're ready to go and we want to walk out on that park with shiny eyes, nice and light, and we just want to play and we're ready to play," he said.
New Zealand beat South Africa 23–13 in their opening match at the 2019 World Cup only to be knocked out in the semi-finals and watch on as the Springboks lifted the trophy for the third time.
The All Blacks have never lost a World Cup pool match but Foster said it might not matter much in the greater scheme of the tournament if they were beaten on Friday.
"I've never seen a build up for a game like this one. I've never seen people put so much on it," he said.
"It's well scripted but at the end of the day, it's a game we want to go into and commit everything to, and afterwards that doesn't really change. Whether we win or whether we lose, we've still got to qualify out of this group."