Jerome Kaino

CAPS 81

NZ Rugby World - - Outside Influences -

Jerome Kaino will say it was his pre­de­ces­sor, Jerry Collins, who set the phys­i­cal bench­mark for modern All Blacks blind­sides.

That would be hard to dis­pute and there is no ques­tion that Kaino was in­spired by Collins and de­ter­mined to be­come just as tough and un­com­pro­mis­ing when he came into the All Blacks in 2006.

But equally true is that Kaino has taken that bench­mark and raised it. It is hard to think of any player in world rugby over the last decade who has made more big tack­les than Kaino.

It is hard to think of any­one who car­ries the ball into con­tact harder than Kaino. And it is hard to think of any player who has been able to play like that at the top level for so long.

That’s been the in­cred­i­ble thing about Kaino – he’s been able to stay at the top level for more than 10 years and his body hasn’t fallen apart and his stan­dards haven’t slipped.

What’s been just as in­ter­est­ing is in the 10 years-plus he’s been an All Black, so few play­ers have been able to em­u­late his skills.

Plenty of young loose for­wards have come into the na­tional squad full of hope and con­fi­dence, but none have been able to dis­play that same nat­u­ral ap­petite for de­struc­tion as Kaino.

None have been able to grind out game af­ter game the way he has and none have been able to es­tab­lish them­selves as gen­uinely im­pos­ing fig­ures on the world stage the way he has.

Kaino, there­fore, has been hugely in­flu­en­tial in es­tab­lish­ing ex­pec­ta­tions in a di cult role. He tack­les harder than any­one in world rugby. He car­ries the ball into con­tact with a crunch few oth­ers can match, and ev­ery game he plays, Kaino is re­lent­lessly con­fronta­tional and will­ing to im­pose him­self.

He has be­come glob­ally renowned for the phys­i­cal in­ten­sity he brings. His rep­u­ta­tion as a hard man is en­tirely de­served and built on me­morable mo­ments such as when he nearly chopped Welsh lock Bradley Davies in half back in 2010.

Or when he buck­led Digby Ioane in the 2011 World Cup semi­fi­nal. For years to come there will be as­pir­ing All Blacks blind­sides who, like it or lump it, will be com­pared with Kaino.

He is the man whose stan­dards they will have to reach.

BENCH­MARK Jerome Kaino has set the stan­dards for all fu­ture All Blacks blind­sides.

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