The All Blacks apparently have been well schooled in the art of speaking to the media without actually saying anything and if past history is any indicator of future outcomes, they appear to be in the right place mentally as they prepare to play the Lions.
Of course, teams in every professional sport that garner enough interest to deserve media coverage know that a large share of the revenue that pays player salaries (dare we say the Lion’s share?) comes from the various media sources, so those media sources in turn demand access to the players.
In the lead up to the World Cup final, All Blacks players were trotted out to meet the journos with the intention of not saying anything that could supply any sort of motivation to the Australian Wallabies.
The statements coming from the players were remarkable for the absolute lack of content. They showed nothing but respect and admiration for their opponents. Would that they would unleash some of the sort of talk that goes on during play, but that might incite in the Wallabies the exact type of emotional ammunition that plays well with their preferred role of the underdog.
So, for All Blacks supporters, the same approach to the Lions bodes well for the All Blacks, who prefer to do their talking on the ground.
Head Coach Steve Hansen says he likes the professionalism and confidence the players’ demeanour in front of the media indicates. To quote Hansen, ”I can feel the enthusiasm. There is a real hunger in the hotel with the players. They are really up for it. That doesn’t guarantee that you will win the thing but it does guarantee that your attitude is right and we know that if we get our attitude right and our clarity is right then we are a good side.”
Apparently, Hansen is as well schooled as his players at issuing pre-game platitudes.