Sunday, 25 October 2009

Nice to see you again, Zac

Leigh Halfpenny won't need any introduction to All Blacks newcomer Zac Guildford. The Hawkes Bay wing, who won three successive IRB World Junior Championships at U19 and then U20 levels between 2007-09, faced his Welsh rival three times in two seasons.

They met twice in the U19 world championships in Belfast in 2007 and then once in the inaugural IRB U20 event in Wales a year later. That was at the semi-final stage, but Guildford and co came out on top every time.

Guildford and the other uncapped tourists, Mike Delany, Ben Smith and Tamati Ellison, all got their first taste of life in the All Blacks camp this week and addressed the rest of the squad on their feelings about gaining selection for the tour.

"We're trying to set the scene for the tour. There are quite a few guys in their first year in the All Blacks camp apart from the four new caps,” said senior coach Graham Henry.

“Keven Mealamu came along and spoke about the legacy of the All Blacks and how much the team has done for the country. We've won 78 per cent of our tests over 100 years, and I think the next highest side is South Africa with 67 per cent.

“What the All Blacks have done for this country is immense, and some of the players don't know those things. That legacy, and the expectation from the media and public is something they need to handle, because that expectation is huge.

“I think it's motivational for the side so long as you handle it the right way.”


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