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All Blacks' belief in their 'processes' got them over the line

Aaron Cruden and Ryan Crotty reveal the depth of confidence the Kiwis can count on in times of stress.

Cruden converts Crotty's try to win the game for the All Blacks.
Cruden converts Crotty's try to win the game for the All Blacks.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

WE HAD TO WAIT 79 minutes and 42 seconds to see the first fully-fledged demonstration of what has made this All Blacks side so successful, but it was stunning when it arrived.

Intelligence, handling, patience, fitness and composure all played their parts in the 12-phase passage that ended with Ryan Crotty getting over in the left-hand corner. It was a remarkable denouement to a game in which the All Blacks had been physically bullied for large parts.

Steve Hansen and his coaching staff have invested a lot of time in developing their player’s mental skills. There is a depth of belief in this great team, as well as utter commitment to how they want to play the game. Focus is put on keeping the players grounded, but that does not mean the All Blacks don’t know exactly how good they are.

They knew they had enough ability to score against Ireland, even with less than 20 seconds left on clock. Out-half Aaron Cruden spoke afterwards to give some fascinating insight into how the All Blacks were thinking late on in the game.

I think the talk throughout the lads was really positive. We’ve got a lot of self-belief in this team. We’ve got a lot of talent and we know if we are able to hang in the fight, the momentum will start to turn, which it did.

“It took a long time to wrestle the momentum off the Irish. They really beat us to the punch for a lot of that game but staying true to our systems we were able to get over the line and the boys are pretty proud of that.

“The good thing about this team is we do a lot of work on the mental side of rugby and we know that we are going to have our moments inside the opposition [half]. So as long as we stay in the now and stay in the present, hopefully it will start to turn our way, which it did.”

image

The All Blacks always believed they could score. ©INPHO/James Crombie.

Trusting the process is a key part of how the All Blacks work. They focus much attention on getting every aspect of their game plan right, building towards what they view as the perfect performance.

Richie McCaw acknowledged that it’s not possible to play exactly how you to want all the time, but stressed that even when the opposition are spoiling their preferred approach – as Ireland did – there will always be moments when the All Blacks get the momentum Cruden spoke about.

Maintaining their belief while they waited for that late chance was down the excellence of their leadership, as try-scorer Crotty revealed.

We were just trusting our processes. A lot of talk in the last 10 or 15 minutes was just about believing in our systems and telling each other that ‘it’ll come’. That’s the kind of message that Richie was putting out, same with Reado [Kieran Read].

“We always believed that if we kept to our systems and what we trained then eventually it would come. Yes it was intense, but I can remember the messages that were being driven through; ‘we’re still in this there’s plenty of time’, ‘we stick to what we know’.

“Those are the kind of things I remember the guys saying and it was just about working hard keeping feet on the ground and it was awesome we got there in the end.”

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