You are where your feet are.

To a man the All Blacks players and management have rolled out these six simple words all week in Tokyo.

The essence of this catchphrase is not new – the All Blacks have long been a group dedicated to the ideology of staying grounded. Team first, individual second, forms the backbone of this team.

Nor, according to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, has this theme been designed specifically for the Rugby World Cup campaign. But the wording itself is new, and that alone creates intrigue.


Themes are now commonplace in rugby. In 2017, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson used Muhammad Ali and the rumble in the jungle to inspire their first Super Rugby title for nine years.

Whether this phrase is a theme or not for the All Blacks it has certainly been a common message this week and will, no doubt, continue to be throughout the tournament.

On the eve of such an occasion, it sure is fitting.

You are where your feet are. Utter the phrase in private or public and it serves a simple, reassuring reminder that nothing outside the now matters. Everything else will take care of itself.

This message aims to create clear heads, and clear thinking. When kickoff arrives, and bodies collide, staying in the moment and then dealing with everything that comes next could be the difference between victory and defeat.

"I don't think it's been made up for this season it's something we've always talked about," Hansen said one day out from the All Blacks opening World Cup match against the Springboks.

"We've probably had different ways of explaining it but it's pretty simple. If you are where your feet are then it's right here, right now, this moment.

"It hasn't been made up for this tournament but how we're describing it now I guess is a bit easier to understand."

Beauden Barrett runs through drills during a New Zealand All Blacks Rugby World Cup Training Session at Tatsuminomori Seaside Park 2 in Tokyo. Photo / Getty Images
Beauden Barrett runs through drills during a New Zealand All Blacks Rugby World Cup Training Session at Tatsuminomori Seaside Park 2 in Tokyo. Photo / Getty Images

With all the added hype, expectation and pressure, World Cups can be overwhelming, especially for those new to the grandest stage.

Japan itself is a cultural experience like no other, with bullet trains, masses of people and fast moving parts capable of sweeping anyone off their feet.

Place a World Cup in the middle, and many more distractions are prevalent than any normal test week.

"Once we got here it's about making sure we don't panic about what's happening around us, enjoying the tournament for what it is and then taking the opportunities as they come."

For some teams at least, World Cups can be seven to eight weeks.

Yokohama Stadium sets the scene for the All Blacks opening match, one which will decide who tops their pool and who they could meet in the quarter-finals.

But if the All Blacks or Springboks allow thoughts to drift to such spinoffs, the task at hand moves from focus.

"We don't know what's going to happen," Hansen said. "We could win this pool and Scotland or Ireland could win theirs. You can get too smart if you start thinking about things like that.

"You've got to live where you are at the time and do it well. If we get to the quarter-final it's then about making sure we earn the right to turn up on Monday, regardless of who we play.

"One thing I do know is if we play to the best of our ability they are going to have to play really well to beat us, and if they do so then well done to them. If they don't, then they may have to accept the consequences."

You are where your feet are may also help the more inexperienced members of the starting All Blacks team, those such as George Bridge and Sevu Reece, to cope with inevitable nerves Saturday will bring.

"I think we're in good shape from a match fitness point of view that's why we played Tonga.

"Will there be nerves? Yeah of course there will. If there isn't we're in trouble. Nerves are a good thing but once the game begins you'll find everyone switching in and getting on with it.

"Those young guys, George and Sevu, have been amazing. They just love playing footy and they've embraced everything that comes with it. I don't see them being and different on Saturday. The whistle will go and they'll be into it and I'm sure they'll play well."

You are where your feet are. Expect to hear plenty more of this phrase.

Love your rugby? Subscribe now to NZ Herald Premium for unlimited access to premium content, including our exclusive, first-class rugby coverage. Check out our special rugby offer here