Greg Feek recalls empty feeling of being on losing All Black side
New Zealand will use first anniversary of Jonah Lomu’s death as spur against Ireland
Ireland scrum coach and former All Black Greg Feek who led haka at Lansdowne Road in 2001. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Ireland’s scrum guru nowadays, Greg Feek, was an All Black once upon a time. Even led the haka at Lansdowne Road in 2001. But we wanted him to speak about losing in that famed jersey. It being so rare. In 10 caps gathered between 1999 and 2001, he only left the field a loser in Marseille on November 18th, 2000. France 42 - New Zealand 33 . A similar scoreline to the 43-31 Twickenham madness at the previous year’s World Cup semi-final. The French again. That almost incomprehensible 13 minutes when Richard Dourthe and the Christophes, Lamaison and Dominici, cut them to shreds to flip 24-10 into 24-36.
Feek was sitting stunned in the stand surrounded by other All Black dirt trackers.
“You are scared to read the papers and head home,” said the 41-year-old from New Plymouth. “I remember getting home after the ’99 World Cup and a couple of guys saying ‘What are you doing coming back here so early’. Because we had failed.
“There are moments like that when you realise the weight that is on you in terms of the expectations [of being an All Black].
“But in the last few years, particularly this group of players have embraced that pressure, rather than dwell on it or let it weigh them down.
“They seem to have got a game that they can get excited about. They can just get back to how they play.”
“Most of our squad weren’t around then,” said New Zealand captain Kieran Read.
He’s right. Only Read and Owen Franks remain.
“For the guys that have been there, we know what it means to lose and how much it hurts.”
All told Read has lost just 10 of his 95 caps – the other low point being a weary 38-21 defeat to England in December 2012.
But his All Blacks are having no problem unearthing fresh motivation.
Jonah Lomu passed away a year ago Friday, aged just 40.
“He is one of our legends in this All Black environment and family. Extra motivation or whatever you can call it for the group. We will be playing for him and his family.
“Another thing back home, the earthquake, is on a lot of the guys’ minds as well. The best way we can do anything [to help] that is go out there and perform on the pitch.”