They chose not to let Scott Barrett back on after a yellow card

Such was the ease with which New Zealand made it into Rugby World Cup final again, that they chose to play the closing stages of their semi-final with Argentina a player down. After lock Scott Barrett saw yellow for slapping the ball down on the 66th minute, New Zealand played the remaining minutes of their 44-6 victory with just 14 players, even when Barrett could have returned.

Asked about whether that – and emptying the All Blacks bench early – would stand them in good stead against the victors of England versus South Africa in the World Cup final, the Kiwi coach said: “I don’t think they’ll make a massive difference. Finals are finals. Whoever we play they’ll be prepared 100%.

“It was an opportunity for us to make sure we look after our resources as best we could. We didn’t see a need to put Scooter (Scott Barrett) back on only from the perspective that if he had another yellow card incident in the next five minutes it might have made it a bit niggly.

“For us, it was a precautionary decision to keep him off.”

Related: Analysis: England set-up offers chance to trouble Springboks attack

Asked if he had a preference for who wins the match-up between England and the Springboks he also said: “I’ll be watching with some popcorn. I don’t care who wins, to be honest. We’re very much in a focus about ourselves stage. And one thing that extra day does give us is a chance to have a break mentally, and not to spend too much juice worrying about if it’s them, if it’s them.

“South Africa have been playing some brilliant rugby, also seen an England team that have built away quietly. They understand how they want to play and are starting to get really good at how they want to play. And they believe in themselves.”

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