Justin Marshall 's Opinion

Justin Marshall is a former All Blacks halfback and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Justin Marshall: All Blacks don't have one defeatist bone

30 comments

There is no danger of this going down as a great All Black performance, but what happened at the end of the first Bledisloe Cup test only enhanced my admiration for them.

The fact they were prepared to chase a win from a near impossible situation after they had been under the pump for so long, when they really had every right to be thankful for a draw, told me everything you need to know about this side and how they have built success upon success.

They don't have a defeatist bone in their collective body.

Even when they're confronted by the improbable they do not yield.

Chris Rattue: ABs on the brink of crisis

They would have been entirely justified, when they won back possession after the 80 minutes were up, to have thought: "We've just repelled wave after wave of attack, we're 85m from their line, let's punt the thing out and be thankful we've escaped with a draw."

No way. I can tell you what the likes of Richie McCaw and Kieran Read would have been thinking.

It would have been: "I want this world record badly. Let's go for it and if we stuff it up and they score, we'll just beat them in Auckland and Brisbane to keep the Cup."

It's the sort of attitude that sustains them when they get in difficulty like Dublin last year, and which makes them such a hard side to beat. They don't quit.

Don't get me wrong, there'll be a tremendous sense of disappointment.

For long periods they were second best and on balance, when they review the game, they'll probably concede that a draw was as good as they deserved.

The penalty count was against them and they had discipline issues, most of them of their own making. That put numerical pressure on them for a quarter of the match.

Player ratings: See how we rated the performances

Yet when everything looked lost they still had the courage to try to win.

That's why I'm convinced they'll arrive at Eden Park in Auckland the happier side.

Australia threw a lot at the All Blacks. Just looking at the body language and attitude they took into the game convinced me it was going to be a tough night for the visitors, but the All Blacks stood up to it all.

They'll get to Auckland, review the tapes and immediately recognise several areas of improvement. Australia will arrive still not quite knowing how they didn't win the game. That can be deflating.

There's been a lot of talk already about referee Jaco Peyper and that fact alone suggests he was overbearing and had too much influence on the game.

I don't think you could argue that the All Blacks were hard done by. At one stage they conceded about seven or eight penalties in a row and were lucky not to have another man in the bin.

In the sequence before Australia were bundled out in the corner just short of the line, there were about three separate penalty advantages. The Wallabies played on and eventually advantage was called over and they were just short.

On any other day, they could have knocked the ball on, Peyper would have returned for the penalty and shown an All Black a yellow card for a cynical foul.

In one of those twists of fate, by being positive and trying to score a five-pointer, they ended up with nothing.

That's probably how they feel about the whole game.

The draw will feel more like a loss. The All Blacks might be ruing not getting the world record, but they'll know they have far more room for improvement.

- NZ Herald

Justin Marshall

Justin Marshall is a former All Blacks halfback and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Justin Marshall played 81 test matches for the All Blacks, including four as captain. The halfback made his debut in 1995 against France and ended his career 10 years later with a series sweep over the British and Irish Lions. He won five Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders, playing 105 games for the franchise. He commentates for Sky Television.

Read more by Justin Marshall

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 20 Sep 2014 12:25:25 Processing Time: 714ms