All Blacks: Scotland the B...
The Jason Eaton.
Call me the herald of a NZ columnist, but I am willing to call it early. No disrespect to the opposition, but I favour the All Blacks runs, on and off, the board. It’s not like a Scottish sporting side has pulled off an unbelievable upset to get the ball rolling *coughs* Celtic. Haggis may be the dish most associated with these northern folk, but there has been a recent rush for another offered up stone cold by the locals, Chris Ratatouille.
The people of William Wallace have even gone to banning certain media associated with the said platform. This is some serious stuff. If only they have as much power over our playing people, then they will have a story.
While the All Blacks management have done to their best to walk away from the conflagration, the Kilts are still not happy. This is not necessarily a bad reality. This contest, early Monday morning, NZ time, needs an explosion of local passion, which may help to balance a sense of self-belief that has been lacking... Well, it seems like forever. Apparently, Coach Andy Robinson has sought out one who has a storied record in real battle, talking the mind games, as the Scottish players have admitted to believing defeat was inevitable against the All Blackness, in the past.
It is all sounding like the storm before the calm.
We don’t always grasp the mental hurdle that these northern sides have with our All Blacks. Okay, if you haven’t been able to win – at all – in your history, this is probably going to do it for you. Recently, I heard an account of a couple of very experienced internationals at club level admitting that having some New Zealand players at their club encouraged them to believe they could cross into English country and win. Really does read rather shocking. Reverse that impact when you are taking on 23 All Blacks, and we see the chasm of belief that befalls sides like Scotland.
As I write this piece, the All Blacks have yet to name their 23 for this first Scottish Test, but as stated early on in this Air New Zealand European Tour, all 32 will get a run in the first two Internationals. I would expect Hansen to name a stronger line-up against Scotland. We have also yet to reflect on the Tour squad, but this needs little time. A successful year means the squad that did the business gets a ticket on the plane, with an extra Lock, Hooker, and Halfback; not an insignificant opportunity for Williams, Coles, and Kerr-Barlow, especially in light of some stiff competition. I would have loved an extra couple of mid-week matches, which would have encourged the All Blacks to take 8 more young and rising names on this Tour. This would have helped to further widen the base, but it is true there are other avenues.
Throughout this early period, it has been the story of Kerr-Barlow that has peaked my interest; born in the Western Island, but his New Zealand ancestry was something he held onto very early, which even encouraged to convince his parents to send him to New Zealand at age 13. A strong showing of passion and singlemindedness. On arrival in NZ, the young man would reside at Hamilton Boys High, thereby putting the first piece in his long-term plan into place. Some have tried to make light of this account, particularly after Hansen offered some commentary on the Mike Harris situation, but such does not do justice to the discipline and distance in seeking his dream. He will savour the day when he has his first cap. The depth in his story is worth the repetition and reflection.
This will not just be another manic Monday, as we look to build on the seasonal momentum of 2012. While Scotland and then Italy, both inside 7 days, may not so easily arouse our senses, this is our team, playing on our behalf; a long way from home.
Let’s do that historic parent-child past-time, and make the effort, which will be worth our while. This is what we do, All Blacks nation.
Go the All Blacks!
Anyone for a score prediction?
Assuming the weather is frigid and difficult, 20-30, points would be a solid first up effort.
What Say You?
Until Next Time