Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: All Blacks will use ill-conceived remarks for motivation in Dunedin test build-up

England's prop Joe Marler. Photo / Greg Bowker
England's prop Joe Marler. Photo / Greg Bowker

As the All Blacks look to make things right in Dunedin, they will look within for motivation.

They are their own worst critics, after all, and there is opportunity aplenty for improvement after a strangely flat and mistake-ridden performance in Auckland aided and abetted of course by a good England team. They will know the areas in which they have to improve - handling, in particular, as well as their scrum and penetration on attack.


Just in case they aren't quite at boiling point, though, Steve Hansen will be able to call on several little gems from England's squad this week to help orchestrate what he hopes will be a backlash performance from his team.

Prop Joe Marler, he of the surprisingly ornate two-tone hairdo, was the latest in suggesting the All Blacks' "aura of invincibility" had gone.

"We went into the game having spent the build-up trying to get rid of this All Black myth, or aura, about how they are invincible," he said. "We respect them as a team and know they have several world-class players. They are world champions at the moment, too, but Saturday helped us even further to believe we can go toe to toe with these guys."


In itself that's not inflammatory, not even close. It's just an answer to a standard question from an English press pack which is also increasingly optimistic of a good result in this series after taking a fairly pessimistic attitude into Auckland.

But it is the drip, drip effect of the "myth" and "aura" killing comments which might come back to haunt England. The qualifying "at the moment" after "world champions" was a good line, too. It probably hasn't gone unnoticed.

In case England have forgotten, the All Blacks won that test at Eden Park, despite being clearly below par and behind on most of the important match statistics. They did it with self-belief and skill. England assumed the All Blacks would be happy to take the three points on offer as the minutes ticked down at Eden Park - they certainly would have been had the positions been reversed.


The All Blacks noticed throughout the test that the English switched off as soon as Nigel Owens awarded a kickable penalty, they were just waiting for the right opportunity, and Aaron Cruden took it.

Rather than worrying about the opposition's reputation, England should concentrate on how they can improve their own performances after a test in which they probably played above themselves. That is likely to be the All Blacks' approach. Apart from a possible judicious passing on of a few comments by Hansen, of course.


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