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Rokocoko up for challenge

Fotopress

Sportal.co.nz     10 Sep 2007     Fotopress

He might reasonably have expected a start as part of the strongest All Blacks XV of the year, but had to make way for Auckland teammate Doug Howlett.

But Rokocoko said when he learned he wasn't in the first team it was simply a case of continuing with the hard work to be ready for his chance when it came.

"In the end the team is going to win the World Cup, not yourself," he said.

"I didn't get too much into what happened. We want to be in top shape after four weeks," he said.

With the challenge on for places in the side with Howlett and Sitiveni Sivivatu, Rokocoko said there was no need to be piqued because in that situation he and the others would not put their effort into making their teammates play harder.

"For two years we've been training this way to get along.

"If you get a chance in the pool games then you take it," he said.

The try-scoring form of his rivals was obvious against Italy but Rokocoko also noted the start that South African rival Bryan Habana had made in his side's win over Samoa on Sunday.

Portugal was typical of all teams in the competition in soaking up the atmosphere but one thing that New Zealand would have to be conscious of was not falling into the state of mind that it had to throw the ball around from everywhere or to make unnecessary 50-50 passes.

"You don't want to get into bad habits," he said.

Rokocoko, who came into the tournament only five tries behind Howlett on the all-time New Zealand list, wasn't too concerned about attempting to wrap the record up for himself.

"I'm more concentrated on my number of Test matches than tries," he said.