No chance All Blacks will rock up arrogant this time
AUCKLAND: All Black coach Steve Hansen continued his theme of attempting to downplay expectations as his side prepared to leave for the World Cup in England yesterday, emphasising the 2015 team were probably less arrogant than previous incarnations.
Hansen’s side head to England as not only the champions but hot favourites to become the first side to win successive tournaments and the first All Black team to win the Webb Ellis trophy overseas.
Since taking over in 2012, Hansen’s team have played 47 tests, winning 42, and lost just once to each of Australia, South Africa and England, while drawing twice against the Wallabies. In 2013, they also had the first unbeaten season since the game went professional in 1995.
While not garnering as successful a record as the current side, previous teams have travelled to Northern Hemisphere tournaments with an expectation from their compatriots that they just need to turn up to win the World Cup.
Such expectations resulted in some serious missteps, on and off the field. In 1999, they travelled in a plane with the fuselage sporting an imposing graphic of their front row.
In 2007, they continually rotated the team and selected an unfit player for the quarter-final against France to see if he would be match fit for the semi-final. Others selected for that match played out of position and France won the game 20-18.
“In 2007, I think we rocked up a little arrogant, like previous All Blacks teams over the years may have,” Hansen said.
“(We were) too comfortable, having come off being the number one team for a long time and just expected it to happen.
“Rugby, or any sport, will tell you that if you rock up to a contest involving another person and expect it to happen then the other guy or athletes will have something to say about that.”
“There is not an expectation that we should win it by right,” Hansen added. “We’re not going to defend the World Cup because it’s not ours to defend. Its already gone back.”
The squad had a two-hour contested session on Tuesday that replicated match conditions as they prepared for their opening Pool C game against Argentina on September 20.
“We’ve got to make sure we are battlehardened over at the World Cup and we’re ready to play,” assistant coach Ian Foster said.
“The last thing we want to do is put ourselves in cotton wool and worry about things (like injuries).” – Reuters