All Black No 8 just enjoying the moment
As a Crusaders stalwart and experienced All Black, Keiran Read has played in a lot of finals and deciding matches in his career, but he is not sure that will be any help when he runs out onto Eden Park on Sunday to face France in the World Cup final.
“I don't think we can really compare anything to a final of this magnitude, to be honest,” he said.
“I think it's exciting and you can't just really have the attitude towards it that it is just another week. You've really got to treat it as a grand final, as something that you probably won’t experience too many times in your career, and enjoy the moment.
"It’s the biggest game of your career so you should get excited by the week. It may not come around again.”
Read’s attitude will come as good news to a New Zealand public that is still concerned that the occasion may get too much for their team and allow nerves to bottle it.
With France really having little to lose in this game after a poor tournament where they lost twice, it is an understandable concern.
But Read appears to be embracing the challenge, like the Springboks did in 1995, when their manager Morne du Plessis spoke about defining moments in their lives.
The All Blacks' chances of success will depend heavily on the basics that they have mostly done well in this tournament.
Although they had scrumming problems early on, particularly in the opening match against Tonga, where maybe they were busy with a process that preceded any need to win by as big a margin as possible, they have been strong there of late.
“Our scrumming ebbs and flows a bit. Sometimes it is great and some days its maybe not quite so good. We need to find consistency,” he said.
Against France in the pool game last month the All Black scrum was outstanding in the first half and played a big role in laying the foundation for a 20-point win.
However Read is right about the inconsistency, for the All Black scrum faded badly in the last quarter, and the French were able to take some of the gloss off the win with some late tries.
According to Read, the French pack can hurt the All Blacks if they don’t concentrate for a full 80 minutes.
“We need to keep building our scrumming because there is no bigger test than this French pack provides, and they have shown that over the past few weeks,” he said.
Indeed, France did get the better of Wales in the scrums in the semifinal, although the sending-off of skipper Sam Warburton would have had an impact on that.
Read, back in the side after missing much of the early part of the World Cup to injury, reckons he is ready to play a strong 80 minutes.
“It's great to be playing in these types of atmospheres and occasion. I had a great time last week and you just want to be putting your best foot forward and playing your best game.
"If you can do that and hopefully 14 other guys or the 22 guys are playing their best game we're probably going to go pretty close to winning this thing."