Rugby: Fitzpatrick thinks All Blacks belong with sporting royalty

By Kris Shannon in Berlin

Sean Fitzpatrick played an active role at the Laureus Sport for Good Jam in Berlin. Photo / Getty
Sean Fitzpatrick played an active role at the Laureus Sport for Good Jam in Berlin. Photo / Getty

Sean Fitzpatrick certainly appears a man who belongs at the Laureus Sports Awards - and he believes his former team can likewise.

The legendary All Black captain and Laureus academy member was in his element yesterday, mixing and mingling with world sport's elite while discussing Kiwi prospects at Tuesday morning's (NZT) ceremony in Berlin.

As the festivities kicked off with the Laureus Sport for Good Jam, Fitzpatrick was quietly confident about the All Blacks' chances in a highly-competitive team of the year category.

Looking around a room filled with former athletes like Raul and Carlos Puyol - who made more than 900 combined appearances for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively - Fitzpatrick insisted the All Blacks deserved their place alongside sporting royalty.

"For us to be boxing away on the world stage like we are - you just look at the people who are here, the football guys who are here, and to be competing with them is amazing," Fitzpatrick said.

"We've tried a few times but I think just to be nominated six times in phenomenal. It's amazing what they've achieved - they're the most winningest team in the world and they've won back-to-back World Cups, which has never been done before."

Another first - a Laureus award - will be tough to come by, given a level of competition that includes European champions Barcelona and the record-setting Golden State Warriors, but Fitzpatrick had been doing his best to promote his former side.

"In terms of the voting, it's quite a stringent sort of process, and if you don't know somebody you ring up one of your fellow academy members to find out about them," he said. "I've made a bit of an effort this year to make sure my fellow academy members knew more about the All Blacks. I just explained what they had achieved not only in 2015 but especially in the last four years."

Fitzpatrick also had his hands full yesterday, playing an active part in the Sport for Good Jam, at which Laureus Academy members promoted the foundation's projects and inspired local youngsters.

The 92-test All Black took that task seriously after being asked for a selfie with a young fan. Fitzpatrick proceeded to ensure the boy went home with a rather full photo album, introducing him to two-time World Cup-winning Brazilian footballer Cafu, former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh and Brazilian skateboarder Bob Burnquist, among various other sporting stars.

"I spend a lot of time with Laureus and feel very privileged to be with these people here," Fitzpatrick said.

- NZ Herald

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