All Blacks: Victory over Wallabies is the only option for Kaino

By Gregor Paul

Jerome Kaino has twice experienced defeat at the hands of the Wallabies. He is determined to ensure that never happens again. Photo / Hannah Peters
Jerome Kaino has twice experienced defeat at the hands of the Wallabies. He is determined to ensure that never happens again. Photo / Hannah Peters

In 12 tests against the Wallabies, Jerome Kaino has experienced defeat only twice. He is determined to ensure he adds another victory this Saturday.

Losing to the Wallabies is an experience Kaino hates. He lost the first time he faced them in Sydney 2008 and the strength of that feeling has stayed with him. He doesn't want to experience it again.

He can remember being in the changing room after the 34-19 loss six years ago. He can remember it wasn't much fun and the experience didn't improve any the only other time he had to endure it two years later.

That was the Hong Kong game that the All Blacks lost in the last minute: the test where the Wallabies then over-celebrated and made out they had won the World Cup.

It was unpleasant at the time, but valuable nevertheless, as Kaino says, because the memories provide powerful motivation.

"I love these games," he says of the Bledisloe Cup. "They are the ones you hate to lose and that is why the boys prepare well and stay up for those games. I am not saying they are more important than any other test but you don't want to be in that changing room after a loss to Australia.

"Part of it is that you don't want to be on a losing side playing the Wallabies. That is what we take into our preparation - our build-up is built on what it is like to lose to them. We focus really hard on that."

This mode of preparation has certainly worked for Kaino. There is something about the Wallabies that brings the best out of him. Will anyone ever forget the way he buckled Digby Ioane in the 2011 World Cup semifinal? Or his thunderous performance at Eden Park earlier that year?

Saturday's test - where he is expected to start at blindside flanker - will be the first time he has faced the Wallabies since the World Cup.

He left for Japan in 2012, and it was watching the All Blacks from afar last year during the Rugby Championship, which confirmed to him that he still wanted to be an All Black.

There was some doubt as to whether he would be able to resume his All Blacks career after missing two seasons, but he showed in the test series against England in June that he still has all the explosive qualities required to be an international force.

Not that he feels he's quite as comfortable now in test football as he was before he left for Japan.

"It's a bit hard to say I have settled in. It's tough because playing three tests against England it was only one team and I haven't had to adapt my game to play the Argentines and South Africans. We will find out once I have had to change my game each week."

- NZ Herald

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