New Zealand warmed up for the fierce intensity of a series against the British & Irish Lions with a record 91-0 victory over Fiji.
The Lions, no doubt watching with interest from their hotel in Auckland, will have learned very little about the All Blacks’ defensive capabilities or the power of their pack. They were hardly tested in either area.
But Phil Larder, the Lions’ head defensive coach, will have been busy scribbling notes because New Zealand’s slick and ruthless attacking qualities were in clear abundance as they ran in 15 tries.
Sitiveni Sivivatu – the Fijian-born winger who only qualified for New Zealand this year – became the first All Black to score four tries on his Test debut as he dazzled the crowd with electric footwork and clever handling.
Captain Tana Umaga and Doug Howlett scored two apiece and the All Blacks also worked tries for creative fly-half Dan Carter, Greg Somerville, Aaron Mauger, Ali Williams, Rodney So’oialo, Keven Mealamu and Mils Muliaina.
And all this without any Maori representatives. The likes of Rico Gear, the Crusaders’ try machine, Jonno Gibbes, Carl Hayman and Leon MacDonald were all given leave to play the Lions on Saturday.
The All Blacks’ only concerns will be the back-up goal-kicking once Carter was replaced and the fitness of Umaga, who hobbled off in the second half and spent the rest of the game with ice packed around his ankle.
New Zealand coach Graham Henry hailed the contribution of debutant Sivivatu after the match.
Henry said: "He could be very special player.
"Not only has he got ability with the ball in hand but he has got a good feel for the game, great touches, a good understanding of the game.
"He is a physical player as well, good defence.
"I just think he’s a good footballer."