Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Believe in Magic. the All Blacks Are Beatable in the Garden of Eden; Jim Kayes Reports from Auckland on Why the Lions Should Have No Grounds to Worry

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Believe in Magic. the All Blacks Are Beatable in the Garden of Eden; Jim Kayes Reports from Auckland on Why the Lions Should Have No Grounds to Worry

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Kayes reports

JEROME KAINO has a routine: off the bus, under the stands, into the changing room, bag down; same spot, every time, by the door to the toilets, just to the right. It has been the same in all but one of the 16 Tests he has played at Eden Park, in a career that now spans 80 internationals.

"Brad Thorn took my seat one time," Kaino says, laughing at the memory. "I just sat next to him. It's Brad Thorn! I wasn't going to ask him to move. Adjust and adapt, mate... adjust and adapt."

It is that familiarity at the home of rugby in this North Island city that Kaino says leads to the comfort of playing there and, with it, a confidence that the All Blacks will do well within its confines. He hopes it is the same tomorrow in the series-deciding Third Test against the Lions, yet he knows it will not be the ground that wins the match.

"There's a feeling of confidence when you run out there because no one in the team has lost there (with the All Blacks), so there's no bad memories," Kaino adds. But that's it. Don't go looking for any magic. There is nothing uniquely special about Eden Park, despite the fact the All Blacks have not lost there since a quite extraordinary Test against France in 1994.

On that July day 23 years ago, the All Blacks led 20-16 with three minutes to play when fly-half Stephen Bachop kicked deep into French territory.

The tourists' skipper, Philippe Saint-Andre, gathered the ball and launched a remarkable counter-attack from inside his own 22, beating three tackles before he was scragged by lock Mark Cooksley. From the ruck, the ball went right, quickly through the hands, before Emile Ntamack cut back inside, where quick hands again and some superb running saw full-back Jean-Luc Sadourny score one of the best tries ever seen at Eden Park.

It was All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick's only Test defeat at his home ground -- and the memory of it still hurts today.

When asked if he can now reflect favourably on the wonderful try -- now roundly known as 'the try from the end of the world' -- there is a pause, a draw of breath and then a quietly spoken "no". Fitzpatrick accepts it was an amazing game -- and one played under huge pressure after France won the First Test in Christchurch -- but it is not a day he remembers fondly.

"I was captain when the All Blacks lost consecutive Tests to France at home for the first time and lost the series, so no, there's nothing good about that day," Fitzpatrick says.

But he loves Eden Park, even if the remodelled version is so different to the stadium he played in that it is hard for him to picture how it once was.

It was home to Fitzpatrick during his 127 games for Auckland and 25 for the Blues. It was where they locked away the domestic Ranfurly Shield for the best part of a decade, won back-to-back Super Rugby titles and, of course, where he helped the All Blacks win the inaugural World Cup in 1987. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.