Say goodbye to the monkey; welcome aboard King Kong.
That's the weight the All Blacks are carrying on their shoulders heading into next year's World Cup, according to Steve Tew.
The New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive was speaking for a Herald online series which begins on Monday.
"People talk about the monkey on our back when it comes to the World Cup," Tew said. "Well, it's now a full-sized gorilla, isn't it. We've got King Kong on our back."
The State of Rugby in New Zealand, a 12-part series, examines the game in depth, with a central theme being whether the All Blacks can deliver success at home next year.
Several commentators ask if the All Blacks have become so wound up in the obsession of winning a World Cup it has restricted their ability to perform when it matters.
Tew said the key was trying to turn those pressures into a positive or else they would become "an overbearing set of stresses that make it difficult for our players to perform".
Writer and comedian Oscar Kightley put it more succinctly: "It feels like our rugby sphincters have been clenched since 1991."
As he did for much of last season, All Black legend Andy Haden has assistant coach Steve Hansen in his sights.
Labelling last year's coaching reshuffle that saw head coach Graham Henry take over the forwards while Hansen became attack coach as "not terribly becoming", Haden targeted the former Wales coach.
"If that group put themselves up to get the job [done] with Hansen as forwards coach, which is what happened, with [Wayne] Smith as the backs coach and with Henry as head coach and the forwards coach isn't up to it ... he goes, end of story."
The series can be accessed at nzherald.co.nz/rugbyBy Dylan Cleaver Email Dylan