|Hit me Wallaby one more time: Jane is bloodied in the semi-final win against Australia last week [GALLO/GETTY]|
Britney Spears probably wasn’t expecting to play much of a part in the Rugby World Cup final on Sunday.
But All Blacks wing Cory Jane could be recruiting the American pop princess to calm some pre-match nerves.
Jane, 28, has retained his place in the New Zealand team to face France at Eden Park on Sunday.
“There’s a lot of pressure but that’s why we play rugby and that was our dream as kids – we wanted to be All Blacks”
Ma’a Nonu, New Zealand
And while some of his teammates will crank up the heavy metal on their headphones as they arrive at the ground, Jane said a bit of Britney could be what he needs as he prepares for the biggest game of his life.
“I’ll listen to a little bit of gangster (rap) now and then, or a bit of RnB,” said Jane, one of nine All Blacks put up for press conferences on Friday.
“I know a lot of the guys listen to hard rock before a game. But I’m a bit more laid-back – it might be a Britney Spears song that comes on. Just whatever keeps me relaxed.”
The All Blacks are trying not to peak too early as they get fired up for their country’s biggest sporting occasion since they last won the trophy 24 years ago.
New Zealand are so much the favourites that one major European bookmaker has already paid out on bets made before Wednesday that the French would lose.
Job to do
“We had a goal at the start that every game we played we would get better, and this is no different,” said Jane, who played in last week’s 20-6 defeat of Australia in the semi-finals.
“We’re not saying that we’re the favourites and that they’re the underdogs and that we should roll them – we’ve just got to do our job.”
|Nonu said the All Blacks had been looking at reasons for their long World Cup drought [GALLO/GETTY]|
Inside centre Ma’a Nonu, who scored the only try of the match against the Wallabies, said the players needed to thrive off pressure and remember why they were there.
“The last time the All Blacks won was in 1987, we’ve always fallen short and we’re always trying to find ways to answer where we have fallen over,” said Nonu.
“This is probably our best chance and we want to take it.
“There’s a lot of pressure but that’s why we play rugby and that was our dream as kids – we wanted to be All Blacks.”
Scrum half Piri Weepu has taken over kicking duties in the absence of injured fly halves Dan Carter and Colin Slade, and has been nominated for the IRB player of the year award alongside Nonu and blindside flanker Jerome Kaino.
“When you are a little kid in the back yard you’re always pretending you’re playing for your country and scoring the winning try or taking the winning kick,” he said.
“Moments like these are moments you don’t want to forget, but you can’t take things too seriously at the beginning of the week. You just try to get your preparation right so that on Sunday you can go out there with a clear head.
“With a big occasion like this, the more relaxed you can be, the better.
“But everyone can’t wait to wake up on game day and feel the buzz in the air and the excitement there is around town.”
Bronze up for grabs
On Friday, the small matter – and for some it is a small matter – of the third-place playoff remains to be decided, with Australia taking on a Wales side that lost 9-8 to France in their semi-final, having played for more than an hour with only 14 men.
Wales beat the Wallabies, who have won the World Cup twice, by one point the last time they were in the bronze match in 1987.
Australia captain James Horwill said that positives could be taken from a contest that has been branded – somewhat harshly – as “the losers’ final”.
“Obviously both teams were disappointed after the weekend,” he said.
“The beauty about this game is you get a chance to right some wrongs from last weekend and finish the tournament on a positive note.”