Kiwi fans are worried re RWC 2011

Is that a constrictive feeling New Zealanders are feeling around their collective throats…?! Having lost just one of their previous 22 internationals – to the Wallabies in Hong Kong last year – in the 2011 Tri-Nations the All Blacks have suddenly lost two in a row, but the Springboks will be regarding this interesting development as a double-edged sword.

If the Boks are to make the World Cup final they will have to beat the All Blacks in the semi-finals (if both teams win their Pools and quarter-finals, as expected), and watching the Wallabies bully the Blacks in the first half of the weekend’s Tri-Nations decider in Brisbane would have encouraged the Boks, but on the other hand they will know that from a New Zealander point of view, this reality check is just what the doctor ordered.

The Wallabies won 25-20 after having been 20-3 up at half-time and then when the All Blacks had fought back to 20-20, the Aussies shrugged off the pressure and scored a spectacular winning try on the three-quarter mark.

Kiwi fans are worried, and with understandable reason, said the surprisingly frank Conrad Smith, who scored the first try of his team’s comeback.

“Maybe they should be (worried),” he said. “But I think they also need to realise that the World Cup is going to be a good contest, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m sure there is going to be a bit of panic amongst our supporters.”

But then Smith added the rider that will have the Boks concerned and aware that there now is no chance at all of catching the All Blacks in complacent mood.

“If you’re a good team and your backs are against the wall, that’s when you play your best. If we’re any good then we’ll come out of this stronger and it will be a lesson that will have helped us.”

And the lesson is that there are quality sides in the World Cup that are quite obviously capable of beating the All Blacks.

“We have learned that you have to be on your game from the first whistle to win the big clashes. We were off in the first half and we got dealt a lesson,” the 29-year-old lawyer argued before pointing out that the positive was the 17 unanswered points his team scored in the third quarter.

“That’s the sign of a good side, Smith said. “You don’t want to be in that situation in the first place but it does happen and you’ve got to be able to deal with the unexpected. Hopefully that’s something we can use moving forward.”

Smith’s flyhalf, superstar Dan Carter, who was made to look ordinary in the first half, agreed with Smith that the All Blacks are under pressure and have to respond favourably.

“The losses are very frustrating but I know the guys have huge belief and are really looking forward to the challenge ahead,” he said.

“Going through the adversity of the last couple of weeks will make us stronger, we’ll learn a lot from losing to the Springboks and Wallabies and I’m sure we’ll be a much better side for it moving forward,” he added.

And so New Zealanders begin the big sweat … and in the meantime the Boks will go to school on the Wallabies’ performance, taking careful note of the benefits of utter commitment in the tackle, at the breakdown and in the chasing down of kicks, not to mention solid set pieces.

The trick is to not allow the All Blacks to get on the front foot and dictate play. And if you get that right they look decidedly mortal.

By Mike Greenaway

www.iol.co.za

About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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