Above: Five years since he last played the All Blacks, Brad Shields is set to face the Kieran-Read lead team for England this coming weekend.
The Test this week seems have been coming forever, but it’s probably only two years.
Unfortunately, what was meant to be the clash of the top two teams in the world is no more.
That’s the problem with over expectation; reality has a way of moving on, and Eddie Jones’ Jerusalem has been built on prayer more than results for the past 12 months.
He’s never shy of a chance to talk, however, hence his stream of consciousness after last week’s knuckle- dragging win over the Boks. You can’t blame him for wanting to talk up a bit of morale in his side.
It’s a stretch though to rabbit on about belief as the key to beating the All Blacks. Anyone can believe anything, until facts prove them otherwise.
The All Blacks after all will equally believe.
There was also some weird stuff from within the side about picking the brains of the former Lions, and picking the brains of Brad Shields, and John Mitchell wanting line speed.
Line speed? Intel from the Lions? That’s stuff from two years ago. Not you’d think that relevant to late 2018. I think for example the All Blacks know that teams will get in their face if they are to have any chance.
So Twickenham will be what it always is. A place where England are tough but not unbeatable. Where the crowd will carry the side a long way and it could be tight.
If England had folded last weekend against the Boks, maybe the All Blacks’ greatest enemy of complacency might have had a wee opening.
But not now. Winning might be saving Eddie Jones. Good luck to him if he and England can pull it off but a year out from the World Cup, he still seems to be searching for his best team.
That’s not what the script was two years ago.
What’s with the rubbish about the All Black coaches and Brad Shields. It sounds like he’s down low on the integrity scale for deciding to finally chuck in his New Zealand international hopes and play instead for England.
I was gobsmacked to read that, if it’s accurate. I doubt many fans would begrudge a fringe player finally deciding that waiting for the callup was taking a bit long.
To use the cliché, he was a fine servant of the game for the Hurricanes and other teams, and we should be happy he’s getting a chance to play on the biggest stage, even if it is in the dreaded Red Rose.
Anything else is just petty.
I can’t get out of my head a mental image of the All Blacks going undercover at Twickenham last weekend.
They bought tickets rather than seek complimentaries, and so England didn’t know they were being spied on.
Not that that was probably the point of the exercise.
But how the heck does an All Black go undercover. I mean, Brodie Retallick, master of disguise, part of a tour party of unusually tall and wide gentlemen. Probably in black.
Sunday November 11 marks the Centenary of the first Armistice Day – when the guns fell silent and conflict ceased after four years of brutal warfare that marked the First World War.
To mark the occasion, representatives from the All Blacks and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RSA) met during September to discuss how recent conflicts are affecting the veterans of today and the shared experiences of representing New Zealand on the rugby field and on the battle field.
A series of video clips featuring highlights of these encounters is being released in the lead-up to this Sunday’s 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day to mark this important day of remembrance. The video clips can be viewed at allblacks.com and on rsa.org.nz
Kevin is a lifetime Hurricanes fan. He and his partner are on a two-year Volunteer Service Abroad posting to Vanuatu's Espiritu Santo island. He's working on a project to build a South Pacific World War 2 museum on the site of an enormous Allied base on the island. Check it out at www.southpacificwwiimuseum.com