All Whites: All Black legends pass on knowledge

Wayne Smith talks to the All Whites. Photo / Twitter.
Wayne Smith talks to the All Whites. Photo / Twitter.

The All Whites have been given an insight into what it takes to achieve World Cup success after being paid a visit by a pair of rugby legends.

All Black greats John Kirwan and Wayne Smith dropped in on a wider training squad session at Auckland's QBE Stadium today and coach Anthony Hudson said their words of inspiration had quite an impact.

"They're two legends of the game and they were very powerful messages - I know the players really appreciated it," he said.

"JK told a story about the pride he felt during the 2010 World Cup [when the All Whites drew 1-1 with defending champions Italy] and, for me, that's quite emotional to hear because that's what we're doing this for, it's what it's all about. For JK to speak about the pride he felt against Italy is something I can't really explain - it has to come from a Kiwi and someone as respected as that."

Smith also spoke to the group and put across his belief that a team of players who each have a strong personal vision and a clear understanding of what they are motivated by had a far greater chance of success.

The visit of Kirwan and Smith - who have won three Rugby World Cups between them as a player and assistant coach respectively - came about largely due to Hudson's desire to further develop the team culture within the All Whites camp.

"Since I've been here, I've been trying to speak to as many people as possible to understand really strong team cultures. We want to make playing for the All Whites something that is deep and special," he said.

"The dynamics of our team are very unique - we don't see each other for a while and all the players come in from different environments and countries," he added.

"We need to find a way that, from the moment they step into our environment, they know why they're here and what it's all about. If I can get some advice from people who are best at achieving that kind of thing and getting everyone into the right mentality then that's important to me."

While the aim is to take the All Whites' culture to another level, Hudson is keen to stress that there are already plenty of aspects already in place that must not be left behind.

"I certainly haven't come in with a brush and just cleaned everything out. There are some common traits of what it means to be a Kiwi - like the never-say-die attitude, work ethic and pride - and we don't want to go away from that."

Hudson said he had been looking to tee up a meeting with former All Blacks assistant coach Smith for some time and already had a close relationship with Kirwan.

"I've spent a bit of time with JK and he took me down to the Blues last year. He's really helped me understand New Zealand and has been a big help," he said.

"I'm just trying to gain from their experience because it's two men who really understand what it means to represent New Zealand - that has to be at the heart of what we do."

The wider All Whites training squad is currently in Auckland to prepare for the OFC Nations Cup, which takes place in Papua New Guinea from May 28 to June 11.

The final squad will be named on Thursday and the preparations will then continue at a pre-tournament camp in Brisbane.

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