Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

All Blacks on Another Level Due to Their Self-Belief

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

All Blacks on Another Level Due to Their Self-Belief

Article excerpt

LAST weekend was one of the strangest I have seen in sport, one that highlighted the uncertainty which makes us love it so much.

Having seen England decimated in the cricket despite dominating the first day, the fragile nature of sporting success was a theme running through the whole schedule.

In both codes of rugby New Zealand triumphed in the face of adversity, overcoming England to book their place in the Rugby League World Cup final and then producing the comeback of comebacks to defeat Ireland in their final rugby union international of 2013.

The All Blacks' ability to get results continues to be incredible, with their last-minute try and re-taken conversion making it 14 wins from 14 tests during the calendar year.

This was sport at its theatrical best and it was just epic to see the highs and lows as the various matches unfolded.

I felt for the England cricketers at the Gabba, but it just goes to show if you make gestures like Stuart Broad did with his five wickets on the first day showing the ball to the crowd, you are laying yourself open to all sorts of potential pitfalls for yourself and your team if you fail in the future.

That was a big lesson for anybody who is interested in playing sport at the top level - don't give your opposition any fuel to feed off!

For the northern hemi-sphere it was hardly agreat week-end.

The game that understandably seemed to get people talking was Ireland v New Zealand, and I was among the many who had written Ireland off in light of their struggles against Australia in Dublin the previous week. It was a classic case of that underdog attitude from the Irish, scoring three tries in a fantastic first-half display.

But they were unable to repel the All Blacks who have such great selfbelief and were able to steal a classic win on the final whistle.

Failing gallantly seems to be what we are good at up here. It is all right getting these occasional oneoff wins, but to achieve the kind of consistency that a world-champion team like New Zealand have managed is a really phenomenal achievement.

As this unbeaten record develops they have to juggle the joint pressures of teams wanting to have a pop at them to end the run as well as feeding their own desire to win.

Before each new test they know they will face a first-half onslaught from their opponent.

Having the ability to ride and control that period of the game is one thing, but the ability to lift yourself again for the second half despite all the pressures of the unbeaten record is an amazing effort which they produce time and time again.

It seems the group have just decided they are good enough, big enough, strong enough and ugly enough to do it, because they are the best in the world.

They have this innate confidence to believe that, even during the final play of a test match from inside their own half, they can produce a winning score. …

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