Discipline within the All Blacks has largely been player driven.

In the same way Keven Mealamu is Daddy Discipline today, it was the back of the bus who kept everyone in check throughout my 10 years as an All Black. It was a gradual process to make my way to the back of the bus but I finally got there alongside the likes of Mike Brewer and Zinzan Brooke. Not that we really had to do too much.

There are responsibilities that come with being an All Black and that was made clear to me on my first day in the team when I roomed with Cowboy Shaw. He told me, in no uncertain terms, what was expected of me and I wasn't to fall out of line.

Most of the time all we needed to do was remind players that what they had done - or not done - was not what we, as All Blacks, do. There was a big emphasis on we because the All Blacks is way bigger than any individual.


Management rarely ever found out about these chats and, if it went any further, that's when players were really in trouble.

There were a handful towards the end of my career, like Norm Hewitt's drunken incident, Mils Muliaina's watering of a bar and Justin Marshall was a bit rough around the edges in those days.

I can remember only one occasion when I needed to discipline someone. It was during the era when Warwick Taylor and Murray Pierce occupied the back of the bus and I was told I had to room with a particular player who let personal standards slip.

When I went into the room, it was a mess. I took one look, told him I didn't approve and said I would be back soon. It was vastly better on my return.

He turned out to be a one-tour wonder and I wasn't surprised. There aren't many players like that today but the All Blacks probably wouldn't invest in someone who didn't maintain standards.

A player-driven approach to discipline is the best way and it looks like the current All Blacks have things well under control.

What Aaron Cruden did recently, when he missed the plane to Argentina, was way out of line and he was disciplined accordingly - to such an extent he feared for his All Blacks future.

Mealamu is only one game short of Colin Meads' record of 362 first-class games. It's a great feat but it will be interesting to see how many more he adds.


He's still worthy of a place in the All Blacks but there are no guarantees he will be at the World Cup. He's still got 12 months to get through, which is a long time for a player with calf issues, and there is growing competition. Dane Coles has proved himself, Nathan Harris did OK before he was injured and James Parsons got a crack this morning.

Mealamu is under pressure, especially when his Super Rugby team-mate is an All Black.