29 Oct 2015

Secret weapons of the World Cup final

12:10 pm on 29 October 2015

In Wednesday's first 'How to win a Rugby World Cup final', it was all about the mental game, the top two inches, thinking on your feet and off them (rucks).

Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow during the All Blacks World Cup match against Namibia, 2015.

Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow during the All Blacks World Cup match against Namibia. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

But now things - frankly - have just gone mental.

As the All Blacks prepare to battle the Wallabies in Sunday's final, our search for pearls of wisdom from the world's rugby writers and players continues.

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David Pocock Photo: AFP

In a piece in The Guardian, Australia's back-row panther David Pocock revealed his match-winning inspiration - David Attenborough.

Pocock, an environmentalist in his spare time, uses Attenborough's documentaries to help him wind down post-match and said he would love to invite the "legend" along to the game.

You can just picture it now, Attenborough in the stands, talking in a hushed voice:

"'This is the first time we've captured this behaviour in the wild. Watch as the panther, sinewy, stalks its prey, its paws touch the ground only for a nano-second. Blink and you miss it. The speed of nature; it's unnatural sometimes.'"

Not the natural choice is what Mark Reason thinks of the decision to let Welshman Nigel Owens referee the final.

But he said it would help edge the Cup in the All Blacks' direction.

"World Rugby confirmed the news that everyone had been expecting since All Blacks selector Grant Fox let the ref out of the bag," Reason said.

"Richie McCaw will helm the World Cup final. His assistant at Twickenham on Sunday will be Nigel Owens, the experienced Welsh official.

"Okay, so Owens, aged 44, a veteran of 67 Test matches, has been officially named as the man in charge, but it is an appointment that should put joy into the heart of every All Blacks supporter and fear in the soul of the Wallabies."

Richie McCaw of the All Blacks passes during training session at Swansea University on October 13, 2015.

Richie McCaw of the All Blacks passes during training session at Swansea University on October 13, 2015. Photo: Getty Images

Reason has long had a bee in his bonnet (straining the nature puns, I know), about Owens, who he said "has a respect for McCaw that at times in the past has bordered on sycophancy, like when he shook the All Blacks leader's hand twice in the immediate aftermath of one Test match".

"The All Blacks have won 12 matches in a row with Owens in charge. Or, should I say, Richie."

While Reason believes Owens won't have the welcome mat out for the Wallabies, they're talking about making Twickenham, the final venue and base of English rugby, their 'home'.

Wallabies lock Rob Simmons.

Wallabies lock Rob Simmons. Photo: Photosport

"You're familiar with it. It's something where you know what you're going to get and to be familiar with a place, it's just like being at home really... When you make your home your home, you're familiar with it and that's what you enjoy about it," lock Rob Simmons said.

It's colonisation in reverse. Madness.

And, finally, in a lesson in stating the obvious, South African defence coach John McFarland said the All Blacks were "beatable".

"The final will be close. I think the key will be the breakdown and how [Michael] Hooper and [David] Pocock did really well against them in Sydney.

"They converted pressure into points. New Zealand will score tries. There's no doubt about that. The minimum they will score is two or three a game."

Thank you Mr McFarland, you have turned me into a rugby soothsayer... Wednesday's piece finished with his line: "Tune in next time when someone will no doubt say 'the breakdowns and scrums will be critical. Whoever wins them, wins the cup'."

OK, so I got half of that. So, tune in tomorrow when someone will no doubt say: "This is Dan Carter's chance to cement his legacy."

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