Collins keen to ensure game plan achieved

Photosport     13 Sep 2007     Photosport

This is in spite of some heavy rulings made by tournament officials for indiscretions, especially by England captain Phil Vickery and South African loosie Schalk Burger.

While attempting to play within the laws, but at the tougher end of physical, Collins said the All Blacks were working on playing the odds in their favour.

"I didn't come all this way to go 50-50," he said.

"Some of us like [No.8] Sione Lauaki and Chris Masoe [flanker], that's how we get paid. That is the way you play the game.

"If we were to go out there and take it easy, it doesn't fit within the game play. Our game plan is to be physical and you get hurt if you go out soft," he said.

There was another factor that was always in an All Black's mind, he said, and that was that you never knew whether the game would be your last, whether due to injury, suspension or poor form.

But he said playing within the laws was in the back of your mind all the time before the game but once into the game you had to play it as it developed.

He said he hoped the game's governing body, the International Rugby Board, was not trying to take the physicality out of the game in order to promote it as a better product for wider television consumption around the world.

"I hope not, because then I would stop playing it," he said.

Collins added that there were times when it could be a lottery over what was described as over-vigorous play and what wasn't. Some referees were pedantic while others were able to sit back and let games flow.

"It is a long way to come to have your tournament end early - you want to be here for the full quota and available. I suppose it is just the luck of the draw who gets picked up and who doesn't. We're aware of it," he said.

The last statement takes on more importance with the decision to use Collins as captain for the game.

He was surprised to be told by coach Graham Henry just before the team announcement that he would be leading the side.

"It's probably one of the biggest honours you can be asked to do when you are playing for your national team," he said.

He said nothing would change for the team. It was important that the aim of getting all the players who haven't appeared yet in the tournament into the team plan, be maintained.

"We have a couple of things we want to really nail within the game plan.

"Finding the rhythm is what we want which is much easier to do when the little things are right," he said.

Collins said one of the biggest lessons he learned from his previous time as captain, in Argentina last year, was that it is important to win if you captain.

"You never want to be a captain of a losing team."

And in a small acknowledgment of how he did on that occasion, and using his distinctive humour, he said: "Judging by how Argentina has done in the last 12 months I don't think I did a bad job."