A galling end-of-year All Black defeat persuaded Andrew
Mehrtens to use that scoreline as his bank card number and
constant reminder of the pain.
His pin number guaranteed ugly flashbacks to go with his bank
Not many All Blacks will forget the result or the manner of
their 38-21 loss at Twickenham to England. The memories will
be long and difficult.
They were whacked on the scoreboard and thumped all around
It sent the All Blacks away in reflective mood on a variety
of business duties in Europe as they pushed through a few
more days of work before they could call it quits.
As they recall their year, they will wonder about the loss to
England, think about where they were dusted and apportion
ideas about the loss to various elements of their work.
They will factor in some intrusive glitch from the norovirus
which afflicted them during the build-up and think about how
or if they have to alter their plans after being bullied by
The All Blacks sparked into life in June with an opening
42-10 win against Ireland and aside from a wobble in the next
match and a stalemate with the Wallabies in Brisbane, they
Travelling the Rugby Championship globe and dispatching the
Springboks, Pumas, Wallabies, Scotland, Italy and Wales
around stacks of travel was a resilient effort.
It is time now for the squad to use their down time wisely,
to stay physically tuned but give themselves a break before
next year's Super rugby campaigns.
The coaching group will also unpick their ideas, assess their
squad and debrief their concepts for a year which starts with
a three-test series against France.
They will look for more evidence from men like Zac Guildford,
Hosea Gear, Tamati Ellison, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Piri Weepu,
Adam Thomson, Liam Messam, Victor Vito, Ali Williams, Ben
Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot and Dane
Coles that they remain All Black material.
Ageing teammates like Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore, Tony
Woodcock and Conrad Smith will get just as close scrutiny as
the selectors project a broad outline on a 2015 World Cup
Some like Richard Kahui and Anthony Boric who have been All
Blacks and are threatening to return after injury, will go
into the mix. So too many new faces like Tom Taylor who was a
late addition as cover on this trip.
The panel will have picked up many ideas for their
internationals up north this time next year and for the
global tournament beyond.
They will be asking whether their broad game plan works as
well north of the equator against teams who are improving
their skills and fitness to go with their undoubted size.
If so, where do they tweak it, how do they take it to the
next level? Is there a more productive grade for the game
they are playing or do they need to vary their work much more
to suit their location?
Memo Santa Claus: Can you pop any ideas down Hansen's chimney
later this month with the appropriate flow diagrams and
crystal ball concepts.
- By Wynne Gray of the NZ Herald in London