Martin Devlin: Why we should be desperate for an All Blacks win this weekend

Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Friday, 26 July 2019, 12:13PM

Winning is a habit. It is one of the oldest cliches in sport.

Yet here we are preparing for an All Blacks test against our oldest most competitive foe and there seems to be a prevailing mood that it will be ok to lose, providing that we do this, this and this.

It is almost like "I won't mind a loss as long as we get closer to finding the answers we seek before the World Cup kicks off".

I am not saying everyone is feeling like that but there is certainly more than a fair few who are and are also prepared to voice that opinion across airwaves and every other media available to them.

Me, I am not so sure this is the right way to approach any All Black test, and I would also like to think it is a view that, if held, is certainly something being talked about outside the camp rather than within it. 

The whole mystique of the All Blacks is built upon the legend that we very rarely lose. A relentless uncompromising attitude based upon beating every opponent then beating them again.

Half the problem most teams have when playing against us is that they simply never win. Opposition players never experience what that is like and thus find it difficult, under whatever circumstance, to genuinely believe they can beat us.

This creates an almost "lost before they take the field" mentality. It has become a very definite and tangible psychological edge that helps create an aura around our team very few across any sports ever enjoy. So why soften this approach in WC year?

Would not the exact opposite be the better option?

Turn the screw, pound every opponent into submission, never give a sucker an even break and so forth? Shouldn't we be trying to create a mentality like facing Rafa Nadal on clay?

By feeding our rivals own uncertainty, by sowing the seeds of self-doubt we can own the mind games before the real ones start?

Sadly that was then and this is now. The World Cup has become the be all and end all of all rugby this year as it does in every year it is competed for.

In both 2011 and 2015 the Ozzies won the Rugby Championship while the All Blacks took out the main prize. Winning might be a habit but more importantly, as those years clearly demonstrate, it is when you win and at what tournament that counts most these days.

The Rugby World Cup is the ultimate. And the truth is every test in WC year is simply another game building up to it.