One of the keys to the All Blacks' last two World Cup victories was their vastly improved ability to cope with the pressure of playing in the nerve-shredding atmosphere of knockout matches. For the first time since 1987 (illness-stricken team of 1995 apart), their mental fitness matched their physical fitness.
Another, which coaches Steve Hansen and Ian Foster have both made a point of talking about at length before their recent arrival in Japan is the need to prepare for the unexpected and to a large extent that's what got them home in the last two finals against France and Australia.
Another common denominator is skipper Richie McCaw and the great leader's influence on his teammates and the opposition was significant. But for him, preparing for every contingency was the most important thing.
In the minutes after the excruciating 8-7 win at Eden Park in 2011, McCaw, his lungs still heaving, was asked by Sky Sport interviewer Ian Smith about the performance of Stephen Donald, the fourth-choice first-five who stepped up once Dan Carter, Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden fell to injury in the days, weeks or minutes prior.
"I think the key was expecting things like that to happen," McCaw replied. "If you hope for the best and don't prepare for it then when adversity comes or something happens you can't deal with it. Things happen. You lose a guy like DC and it would be easy to drop your lip but the next guy stood up and then the next guy, with old Beaver at the end. Jeez he was composed. I take my hat off to the guy."
It is an interview that still resonates — perhaps even more so now that eight years have passed, because the relief on McCaw's weary face is obvious after the quarter-final nightmare in Cardiff at the hands of the same opposition four years before.
The margin of victory was greater at Twickenham in 2015 but the requirement to cope with adversity was just as important.
Before that test against the Wallabies the All Blacks planned for the possibility of playing with 14 men should one of their number receive a card. Ben Smith duly received one early in the second half for his lifting tackle on Drew Mitchell but the problem was the only player Hansen didn't plan on being without was the fullback.
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That led to the defensive mix-up which allowed Tevita Kuridrani to score the try which brought the Wallabies back to within four points and threatened a momentous comeback at Twickenham.
Still, it was the All Blacks' ability to soak up that pressure and respond which got them home, and Smith played a key role in the breakout attack which led to the try for Beauden Barrett's which sealed a 34-17 victory.
The preparing for the unexpected message obviously registered some time ago. England coach Eddie Jones has apparently catered for all contingencies to the point where in Blighty he forced his players to travel to training in a bus (as well as putting sushi on the menu), thus mimicking the arrangements for a tournament in Japan which kicks off next weekend.
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus told his players to kick possession away to Japan in their final warm-up match against Japan in order to get used to defending in the heat.
But the very nature of the unexpected means there are some things you simply can't plan for. All of the coaches will just have to hope they have the structures in place along with the right players to cope with adversity as best they can. The quality of leadership will help too — the peerless McCaw proved that.
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