Canada just want to play better with All Blacks next

FUKUOKA, Japan (AP) — Playing much better than it did against Italy is Canada's foremost goal heading toward the Rugby World Cup game against defending champion New Zealand on Wednesday in Oita.

Canada was hugely disappointing and disappointed in losing to Italy 48-7 last Thursday in Fukuoka, but found some positives in its opening match. Canada bombed one try in the first half, had another disallowed in the second half for a forward deflection, and finally scored while Italy led 36-0.

"We had a review meeting yesterday that highlighted the amount of opportunities we had," scrumhalf Gordon McRorie said on Sunday. "The fact we didn't finish them is hugely disappointing.

"But having seen those opportunities we created, it was a big positive for us, so the guys are excited now to keep to the script. Going forward, just tidying up on our finishing skills and making sure that we're able to create those opportunities again ... hopefully this time we'll nail them down and get some points on the board.

The Italy result underlines Canada's prospects of a thrashing from top-ranked New Zealand. But McRorie said they were looking forward to meeting the All Blacks for the first time in eight years, since the 2011 World Cup.

"Playing against the best team in the world is a great opportunity for us to really challenge ourselves and a big result for us would be if we can improve on our performance from Italy," McRorie added.

"You have just got to acknowledge who you're playing against, and then after that concentrate on yourself, on your own performance, on the team performance. We could revere and preview New Zealand all we like, but at the end of the day it's us that have to go on the field and represent Canada so it's what we can do in that jersey that counts."

Canada has also welcomed center Guiseppe du Toit and fullback Theo Sauder as replacements in the squad for Ben LeSage and Nick Blevins.

Le Sage and Blevins suffered tournament-ending injuries against Italy; LeSage needs surgery on a hand and Blevins received a broken jaw.

"You never want to see your friends get hurt," Sauder said, "but we're here and ready to help when we can."

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More AP Rugby World Cup: https://www.apnews.com/RugbyWorldCup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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