• Focus and Calm Emotions Key to All Blacks Lions Test Decider

    Not surprisingly, the All Blacks had a number of grievances over the way the second test played out against the British and Irish Lions.

    In a close affair, such as it was, with a final result of 24 – 21 in favour of the Mother Country and its cohort of rebels, the Kiwis hopefully have derived a burning inspiration that will tip the balance their way in the decider in Auckland.

    The final test is just a few days off, so there will be time to culture the correct attitude, one of calm and disciplined focus, with just enough restrained fury over the previous outcome to have the All Blacks firing properly in all phases.

    The All Blacks find themselves in uncharted territory. They went so long without being beaten on their own ground in Wellington, that many of the players on the current squad might have considered it their birthright to always prevail.

    Objectively, their own performance in the second test was impaired following Sonny Bill Williams’ ejection, but for generations, the attitude has been that the All Blacks could take the Poms with two fewer, not merely one.

    The most obvious solution is for the All Blacks to seize the initiative at the outset and build a cushion such that no perceived injustices can hurt them. Officiating, even in the age of the video review, is still subjective in many instances and pouting over the perception that equal sins do not receive equal penance is a guaranteed path to disappointment.

    We could spend the time remaining until the third test on July 8 in lamentations that Sonny Bill Williams’ blow was no more egregious that those of Mako Vunipola on Beauden Barrett, but the fact remains that Williams drew red and Vunipola only yellow.

    If ever there was a need for calmer heads, that need is now, with all after-the-fact talk of swinging arms and king hits left for the pundits.