Key to success is they are all in it together
Ihave not been lifted in the line-out since I retired from rugby in 2015. This was a hell of a comeback. Training with four All Blacks little more than 24 hours before their game with England at Twickenham certainly meant it was a Friday with a difference, and the line-out was undoubtedly the highlight.
Scott Barrett and Dalton Papalii lifted me a good foot higher than I’ve ever gone previously, and having the world’s best player,
Beauden Barrett, as my scrum-half certainly meant this was a morning to remember.
The training session was put on for one of the All Blacks’ sponsors and selected media, and the players were remarkably relaxed considering how close it was to such a big match. There were little clues to their success everywhere you looked. As Richie Mo’unga, Barrett’s understudy, led crisp handling drills, he told me that every player in the All Black squad, no matter their position, will spend more time practising passing than any other skill. If their front row pull off some miracle offloads today, it is no fluke.
But watching the four lead a smooth, sharp training session, what struck me most was how relaxed they were in each other’s company, particularly Barrett and Mo’unga, who are both competing for the No10 shirt. It made me think of my own playing days and how I would envy the relationship some of the New Zealand women’s team had with each other. For them, it was about helping each other improve, no matter if they were a rival for your position.
The All Blacks template is one many have tried to follow. But after just a morning in their inner sanctum, I can tell that this took years to create and is extremely hard to replicate.
Beauden Barrett and the All Blacks are brand ambassadors of Swiss watch brand Tudor. For more information go to www. tudorwatch.com