Book a new look of All Blacks
Rugby journalist Peter Bills approached Steve Tews at the 2015 World Cup to ask if he could write a book about the All Blacks.
Steve’s response was that they got a half dozen requests a week to write a book.
“I said to Steve that whatever you do, get someone from outside New Zealand who will bring a fresh perspective.”
Peter’s book The Jersey, the secrets behind the most successful team, was launched this month, and on Thursday he’ll be heading home to Nice in France.
He notes in the book that he believes The Jersey “offers fresh perspectives, different angles and original ideas concerning rugby in this unique country and a new look at the most successful period in New Zealand rugby history”.
Peter said the players he spoke with during the writing of The Jersey were “completely open . . . tremendous”.
“From 2004 to now, the All Blacks are quite extraordinary.”
Peter first came to New Zealand in 1975 and has since been crossing the world following the game and every World Cup since. He’s known and spoken to a lot of the players and lists some of the greats who wore the jersey.
“Graeme Mourie and Sir Brian Lochore were gentlemen”, and Sir Colin Meads gave his last major interview to Peter.
Peter remembers the game at Twickenham in the 60s when a player remarked that he “played on the wing and the forwards kept the ball all the time”. And the loss at the 2007 World Cup was because the team, by their own acknowledgment, “were arrogant, something that is not tolerated by coach Steve Hansen”.
However, a key element to the All Black’s current success is humility, says Peter. “The All Blacks are humble and good role models.”
Peter spoke with Beauden Barrett on Saturday night before the Bledisloe Cup.
“He was grateful that there was a specific acknowledgment to him in the book. He did not have to say anything to me ahead of the big game.”
And what are the secrets to the team that 1984-6 Wallabies captain Andrew Slack said were an “enormous sporting entity”.
Peter quotes Dan Carter who said there were no secrets: “People go looking all around the world . . . but we constantly repeat our skills.”
There’s the “magnificent” school system, says Peter, echoed by forward Jerome Kaino who says the quality of the young players is produced at grassroots.
There’s All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo who came to New Zealand and found kids being ungrateful; “they want mobile phones, cars, everything” . . .
Peter spoke and writes about the influence of the Polynesian players who brought change to the game.
Barrett is quoted in the book: “Pasifika players do bring that raw physical power. But it’s more than that. I think it’s the ability just to pick up a ball and know how to play footy. It’s even more instinctive to them than anyone else.”
Peter Bills gets inside the jersey.