Latest All Blacks Insights Survey
Latest All Blacks Insights Survey
For immediate release: July 8, 2004
RESPECT FOR HERITAGE AND EACH OTHER REVEALED IN LATEST ALL BLACKS INSIGHTS SURVEY
Although they have only been together just on a month, the 2004 All Blacks squad demonstrate considerable depth of respect for their team mates, along with an inherent reverence for All Blacks heritage, according to the results of the second All Blacks Air New Zealand Insight survey report published today.
This section, the second of a four-part survey commissioned by All Blacks sponsor Air New Zealand, concentrates on the process of becoming an All Black, the players' views of All Black culture, competitors and the triggers they responded to most strongly, on and off the pitch.
When asked which current All Black they most respected, a number of players were highlighted, indicating the team spirit within the All Blacks.
One player said he respected anyone who wore the black jersey while another said he would name all of his 25 team mates because 'we're family now'.
Captain Tana Umaga rated highly among the players, with comments such as 'if he wasn't a great All Black he'd still be exactly the same man'.
Justin Marshall was another player who was highly respected by teammates, earning respect for professional consistency, while vice captain Richie McCaw won tributes for his gutsy performance and the way he conducts himself outside of rugby.
And when it comes to naming the international player they most respected, more current All Blacks picked Australian captain George Gregan than any other individual for reasons of competitive spirit, his contribution to the game and his successful record. Australian open side flanker George Smith was also singled out as favourite by 12 per cent of All Blacks.
Across the board, respect for the English team is strong. Almost a quarter of players choose an English player, with Jason Robinson emerging the favourite. Former captain Martin Johnson was also highly regarded, especially by the locks, as an outstanding player and captain.
When asked what inspires players the most when on the field, team unity and national pride were dominant. Given a choice of seven motivators ranging from the playing of the national anthem to knowing friends and family were watching at home, the squad was evenly balanced between being inspired by team mates and being fired up by national pride.
Reflecting on the pivotal career moment when players first learned they had been chosen as All Blacks, the survey showed almost a third heard the good news via the media.
Another third were told in person by the coach with 24 per cent being told over the phone and 12 per cent hearing first from a family member.
One great outdoors sports fan chose not to hang around waiting for the phone to ring on the day the team was named - he went pig hunting and only found out he'd been successful listening to a scratchy car radio as he returned from the bush.
Demonstrating the strength of family support, which has emerged as a strong element within the All Blacks Air New Zealand Insights Survey so far, almost three quarters of those surveyed said their parents were the first to know of their All Black selection.
Drilling down into when players first actually felt like an All Black, the respondents were fairly evenly divided between being named in the team and actually running onto the field for their first test match.
For 12 per cent of players, the moment came when the whistle went at the end of their first test while for a number of others, it was a more personal challenge....'when I performed at the level that the jersey deserved' and 'when I played like an All Black'.
When asked what was the most important thing about being an All Black, humility emerged as a strong theme. A fifth of players believed being humble and not taking their position for granted were most important.
Other quotes included: 'adding to the legend' and 'to be able to look yourself in the mirror proudly after every game'.
Tradition and representing your country also featured prominently as motivators while about a third of players said concentrating on the quality of rugby was their prime concern - 'don't lose sight of the fact that your prime responsibility is to play rugby,' 'playing hard and winning is most important' and 'playing to the best of your ability every time you pull on the black jersey'.
With the All Black legacy stretching back 100 years, it is perhaps not surprising that today's All Blacks believe the haka and national anthem are still critically important.
Almost universally, players said the haka was an inherent part of New Zealand and All Black culture.
When it came to the national anthem, feeling was strong that the anthem was a unifying factor in bringing together all New Zealanders - a distinctive, strong representation of our national identity.