All Blacks: Jane swings into action

Cory Jane is a big-game player and, against Australia, he had a big game. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Cory Jane is a big-game player and, against Australia, he had a big game. Photo / Brett Phibbs

There were many who raised an eyebrow further than even New Zealand coach Graham Henry can when Cory Jane was picked for the All Blacks this year.

He was one of a number of All Blacks to endure a dreadful season for the Hurricanes and was well short of what he was capable of. Jane was picked as an injury replacement for the Tri Nations on reputation because he didn't have any form.

It wasn't as if there weren't options on the wings, either. Ben Smith, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Zac Guildford and Richard Kahui had all been sharp, Hosea Gear had usually excelled in a black jersey and the likes of Isaia Toeava and Israel Dagg were on the comeback from injuries.

But something changed for Jane, and he's glad it did.

"It was a hell of a start to the season, wasn't it?" the 28-year-old admitted. "I knew I could do it, it's just I had to pull my head out and get there. I guess not making it in the Tri Nations flicked that switch and made me work harder and get my act together.

It's cool being here now.

"The coaching staff in this team have done well to get the confidence [of the Hurricanes players] back up and we can play rugby. That's what we do. I don't know why it was terrible with the Hurricanes. It's alright now."

Jane was brilliant against Australia last weekend in a man-of-the-match performance. He claimed every bomb launched his way despite considerable pressure from the Wallabies and danced around in his white boots when he had the ball.

Henry said Jane is a big-game player and, against Australia, he had a big game.

He can make the game look stupendously easy. He's quick, fleet of foot and has a rare ability to beat his marker. But he's also a little different.

Jane is obsessed with Twitter and admits to having suffered withdrawal symptoms during the World Cup - players are banned from using their personal accounts to tweet and must instead use the team one - and can come across as too laidback.

He jokes around, doesn't get nervous before games and has been known to turn up to training in the middle of winter in Wellington in a singlet, shorts and Ugg boots.

He even disgraced himself when he was spotted drunk and dragging on cigarettes in a Takapuna bar just three days before the quarter-final with Argentina. Jane says he doesn't like to play the game too early in his mind, explaining there needs to be balance between getting focused and staying relaxed, but his night out was something that went down about as well as a Quade Cooper knee to Richie McCaw's head with some of his teammates.

Jane's not likely to make the same mistake again, especially not during such an important tournament like the World Cup, but it was significant he played well against the Pumas and was then outstanding against Australia. To him, it doesn't really matter what you do as long as you play well.

He's a simple guy with a simple approach. He's also something of a homebody. He has three young children (Cassius, Tennyson and Prisseis) and recently re-committed to the Hurricanes, despite the exodus of top players for next season and offers from overseas clubs. He didn't see any reason to leave his hometown.

Dagg is another big-game player. The pair trust their instincts but it's based on years of practice and repetition. They make things happen but, crucially in the modern era with regular kicking, are reliable and read the game well.

Together with Richard Kahui, they rival Australia as the best back three in world rugby and it's not one any All Blacks fan, or even selector, might have imagined at the start of the season.

- APNZ

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