All Blacks Q&A
Last Updated: 25/11/08 8:13pm
So'oialo: Expects England to bite
Ahead of New Zealand's match against England at Twickenham on Saturday, skysports.com spoke to All Blacks Rodney So'oialo and Sitiveni Sivivatu...
How does the honour 'IRB Team of the Year' sit on the All Blacks' shoulders?
Rodney So'oialo: "It's a privilege and a good accomplishment for the guys. We've worked pretty hard so it's a privilege to be named."
Sitiveni Sivivatu: "We're really excited about that. We've really worked hard to get there... we're happy."
After New Zealand and England's respective performances last weekend, you must surely be brimming with confidence heading into Saturday's game?
RS: "They've had a couple of losses there - the English team obviously suffered a severe loss against South Africa. I've said it before, it's kind of like an abused dog in the corner: if you shut him up in the corner, then he's going to bite. So the boys are really going to focus hard this week."
SS: "You could say that but for us it's still a work in progress and we've still got a lot of things to work on until this Saturday. We're still growing as a team and improving at the same time as well."
What is there about England's performances you've seen this autumn that has impressed you?
RS: "We played them at the beginning of the year and they're a big team - compared to the New Zealand teams. We're probably one of the smallest teams in the competition and they're also starting to use their brains a bit now, which makes it interesting for us... they've got a pretty good package there at the moment."
SS: "I didn't watch it (England's defeat to South Africa) at the weekend. A lot of people criticise them for that but they have a lot of new guys in the team and it takes a while to build a team. And it's good to see that they have a lot of faith in the younger guys... it might take a while, who knows?"
Everyone in this country seems to have resigned themselves to the All Blacks inflicting another record defeat on England at Twickenham. And yet the New Zealand camp seems to think it could be a close contest?
RS: "I think it's going to be close. I mean, the English team is not a very easy team to beat, especially when they've lost a couple of games... hopefully they'll be coming out and playing quite a tough game - especially against the All Blacks. I think most teams love the challenge against the All Blacks and they give them a tough game."
SS: "It's always a close contest between England and us. We're two rival countries... we know what we're getting ourselves into, there's a big task ahead of us on Saturday. It's going to be a big challenge and it's how we do at the weekend that counts."
England have IRB ranking points to play for on Saturday, whilst you have the promise of a Grand Slam. Which do you think might provide greater motivation?
RS: "To be totally honest we just want to beat England. I can't speak for everyone else but we don't like losing, we play to win and that goes for anything in life: no-one likes to lose. So that gives you the motivation to go out there and give it your all."
SS: "To be quite honest we haven't really thought about the Grand Slam because the game's on the line this weekend and we're still working on it and we'll see what happens on Saturday."
How will you go about preparing this week?
RS: "We're going to analyse what the English team has to offer and from our point of view it's just a question of fine-tuning."
SS: "We'll be working on our game and also working out how we combat England. So we'll go and study our game plan."
What has impressed you most about the All Blacks on this tour?
RS: "I think the team has come a long way from the beginning of the year. We've got a lot of new players and a lot of young guys in the team that have really stood up and started to grow. I think this tour has pointed out (the difference between) the beginning of the year and where we are now and I think it's slowly getting to where we want to be."
SS: "Just trying to feel the young guys in and the young guys are really standing up... which is good for the tour."
Conversely, what aspects of your performance might need working on?
RS: "I think we're playing probably 60 minutes of the game and the other 20 minutes we're probably allowing too much to happen to us - instead of playing the game ourselves, ball in hand."
SS: "I always think we have to work on something. You can't say you're perfect - you still have to improve on your game a lot."
What were you thinking when Wales kept staring at you after you performed the haka at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday?
RS: "I thought it was good. Good on them for standing there and staring at us. It was kind of taking it too far; I'm only there to play a game - I was just waiting for the whistle."
SS: "It's good to see that they returned the favour. It was a good challenge of them and good to see them stand up. We really enjoyed that."
The All Blacks officially opened the Greenwich adiZone, a free-to-use multi-sport outdoor venue, installed by London 2012 sponsor adidas, to encourage youngsters to participate in sport.