All Blacks: Cory Jane's year could be one out of the box

By Dylan Cleaver

He came off the bench against Tonga but a big night out made his quarter-final a stern test. Photo / Getty Images
He came off the bench against Tonga but a big night out made his quarter-final a stern test. Photo / Getty Images

From the outhouse to the penthouse to the dogbox to the big show - 2011 has been a wild ride for Cory Jane.

It could end in the most spectacular fashion tomorrow night, with the All Blacks one game away from ending 20 years of hurt. Jane, fresh off his man-of-the-match performance in last weekend's semifinal, is poised to play a huge role in the final against France. But back to the start and Jane's place in ...

The outhouse

It's a far cry from the listless Jane who muddled his way through a dire season with the Hurricanes.

"It was a hell of a start to the season, wasn't it," Jane said. "I knew I could do it, it's just I had to pull my head out and get there."

The Hurricanes' problems were well-documented. New coach Mark Hammett and the senior players failed to gel, with the star-studded side finishing ninth.

That resulted in a clearout of internationals, with Ma'a Nonu, Andrew Hore, Piri Weepu, Hosea Gear and Aaron Cruden all moving on.

Jane will stay, which must be comforting for Hammett as he watches one of his players have a towering tournament. "I don't know why [my form] was terrible with the Hurricanes," Jane said.

Neither did the All Black selectors, who pointedly left Jane out of their Tri-Nations squad. Before long, however, he was back in ...

The penthouse

It was Jane's good fortune that there were a number of invalids picked in the Tri-Nations squad. That gave the 28-year-old a chance in the opening Tri-Nations test against the Springboks at Wellington.

A two-try performance was obviously enough to convince the selectors because he never got another start until after he was named in the World Cup squad.

"I guess not making it in the Tri-Nations flicked that switch and made me work harder and get my act together," Jane said.

Jane came off the bench against Tonga, then started against Japan and France before a niggle kept him out of the final pool game against Canada. Cue ...

The dogbox

In the annals of hell-raising, Israel Dagg and Jane's Big Night Out in Takapuna would not have won them a spot in the Rat Pack, but it wasn't a particularly clever thing to do given a quarter-final against Argentina was just a few days away.

It prompted a few "you can take the boy out of Upper Hutt ..." jokes, and a surprisingly animated All Black manager Darren Shand to demand a "blinder" from the errant wing.

He answered first with the requisite blinder, then with a mea culpa.

"I knew I had to put in a good performance after making a poor decision the other night. I knew I had to go out there and play well.

"When you do something stupid and it comes out in the media on game day it can affect the team."

If Jane was good against Argentina he was sensational against Australia, who targeted him under the high ball. He, as much as anybody else, determined that after 16 years of trying, the All Blacks would get back to the ...

The big show

"It's rugby, any time you take the pitch any team has a chance of winning. We've had a goal since the beginning of the World Cup that every game we play we get better and it's the same thing this week as well," Jane said of the French finale.

Should the All Blacks achieve all their goals, Jane will have the chance to sit back, winners' medal around his neck, and contemplate a year impossible to script.

- NZ Herald

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