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The All Blacks have named their response to South Africa’s ‘bomb squad’ in the World Cup final ‘Easy Company’ as the team takes inspiration from the story of the 101st Airborne Division in World War 2.
Squad members have been watching the television series Band of Brothers at their hotel on the outskirts of Paris as they prepare to meet the Springboks at Stade de France in Paris on Sunday morning (NZ time), according to loose forward Dalton Papalii.
The Emmy award-winning series details the harrowing exploits of the American parachute regiment through some of the historic, and crucial, moments of the war.
“They've got the bomb squad, we could be like Easy Company and go on and finish the job and be in the trenches,” he told a media conference on Tuesday as the build-up to the weekend’s decider gathered pace.
“But talking about the bomb squad, they’ve proven themselves in their mandate, they can come on and change a game just like that.”
To counter the threat of South Africa’s replacements, whose physical prowess proved crucial in their last two narrow wins over France and England, Papalii said: “We really need to be switched on and give it hell.”
Sunday's final continues a long rivalry between New Zealand and South Africa but with the added spice of determining the identity of the world champions.
“This is the moment on top of the mountain that everyone chases. As a kid growing up, you have that thought of ‘ah man, one day I'd like to be there’ and now you can make it a reality,” he added.
“Having gone through all the hard yards, it's going to be a big one. And this is the game that we have got to leave it all out there.”
They have also looked to dampen down any excess enthusiasm and excitement.
“Our team leaders have said, ‘Okay boys, realise that you're feeling this right now and enjoy it. But when the whistle blows, we've got a job to do’.
"We talk about having fire in the belly and ice in the head. So, we don't want to think about it too much. But I do have little moments throughout the day where I'm like: ‘Yeah, this is it, this is good’.”