KASHIWA – Typhoons are just one of the many challenges world champions New Zealand will have to contend with at the upcoming Rugby World Cup, head coach Steven Hansen said after his team's arrival in Japan was disrupted by the aftermath of typhoon Faxai.
The storm, one of the strongest to hit eastern Japan in recent years, struck shortly before dawn on Tuesday, killing one woman, damaging buildings and severely disrupting transport.
More than 160 flights were cancelled, causing chaos at both of Tokyo's major airports.
With the world’s top rugby teams arriving this week ahead of the World Cup that begins on Sept. 20, New Zealand, England and Australia were all caught up in the post-typhoon disorder.
Australia had to delay their arrival by a whole day, while England were left stranded at Tokyo’s Narita airport for five hours.
New Zealand were more fortunate, managing to get to their hotel in Kashiwa, north of Tokyo, after a two hour delay.
Coach Steve Hansen shrugged off any concerns about future storms disrupting the tournament, which takes place during Japan's notorious typhoon season.
"They are all things we know about and we have planned for so no more concerns," said Hansen.
"Part of our planning is understanding what we are coming into. We are well aware of what we could get."
Despite the delay, hundreds of All Blacks fans waited outside the hotel to greet their heroes, with children performing a haka and a choir singing local and New Zealand songs.
The players appeared a little overwhelmed by the experience after their long journey.
"A fantastic welcome, mind-blowing really," said Hansen, who also exchanged gifts with Kashiwa's mayor.
"Seeing the kids and the enjoyment on their faces was really exciting."
Favourites New Zealand come into the tournament looking to make history as the only team to win three consecutive World Cups.
They begin their campaign against South Africa on Sept. 21.
"You are expected to win all the time so you have to make a choice whether you sink or you stand up," Hansen said.
"For us, it is about getting excited about trying to do something that nobody else has ever done before and we are the only team at this tournament that can do it.
"So, it is an unique challenge to us and if we really embrace that, like I said before, and have fun doing it then that helps you deal with all the pressure that comes with it."Reuters