21 Keven Mealamu [2002-2015] CAPS 132

NZ Rugby World - - Brand Standing -

Keven Mealamu is the sec­ond most capped All Black in his­tory. He sur­vived 14 years of test foot­ball as a hooker and that kind of says it all.

He was tough. Re­ally tough. And com­mit­ted. The other thing about Mealamu was that he would do any­thing for the team.

He trained him­self into the ground – for the team. He’d play him­self into the ground – for the team. He never drank. He never got into trou­ble off the field. He was open, hon­est, gre­gar­i­ous and ev­ery­one that en­coun­tered Mealamu re­spected him.

How could they not? “He’s a mod­ern­day phe­nom­e­non, the way he’s been able to have longevity in the game,” said fel­low All Black Aaron Cru­den the week that Mealamu broke Colin Meads’ record for first-class games.

“To break that record is no small feat. He is ir­re­place­able. He’s one of those guys who ev­ery week – re­gard­less of his role – holds such high stan­dards. As a young guy com­ing in, when you see that, from a guy his age [35] to be so pro­fes­sional and look af­ter his body so well, you ad­mire it and take lessons from it in what you need to be to stay in this game as long as he has.”

The other big in­flu­ence Mealamu had was as head of in­ter­nal dis­ci­pline be­tween 2012 and 2015. Mealamu was the man naughty All Blacks had to go see. They had to look him in the eye and say sorry for what­ever breach of pro­to­col they had com­mit­ted.

It was a sober­ing and dif­fi­cult ex­pe­ri­ence that play­ers be­came pretty keen to avoid – which ex­plains why dis­ci­pline within the All Blacks has been so good.

Cru­den, fun­nily enough, had to face that ex­pe­ri­ence in 2014 when he missed a flight to Ar­gentina. It was bad enough deal­ing with the coaches af­ter he missed the flight, but Cru­den said noth­ing com­pared with sit­ting down to apol­o­gise to Mealamu.

“That just shows the qual­ity of Kev. There was this stern­ness and then the fact he was able to point some­body out and then still go out there and make sure they are OK.

“That is what makes him a great All Black and a great man.”

TO BREAK THAT RECORD IS NO SMALL FEAT. HE IS IR­RE­PLACE­ABLE. HE’S ONE OF THOSE GUYS WHO EV­ERY WEEK – RE­GARD­LESS OF HIS ROLE – HOLDS SUCH HIGH STAN­DARDS.’ AARON CRU­DEN

DIS­CI­PLINE MASTER Keven Mealamu played a huge role in in­flu­enc­ing off-field be­hav­iour.

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