allblacks.com 20.Nov.2009Getty Images
(Oops Just found my diary in my kit bag from last week – sorry it’s late).
The Millennium Stadium was pretty amazing. Even though there were over 70,000 fans there, it felt smaller than it actually was. I still can’t believe how close the crowd felt and how loud they were. You could feel the emotion when the Welsh sang their national anthem. “The Last Post” was played for Remembrance Sunday and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.
There did seem to be even more emotion in the haka than usual, probably because of the stand-off last year. Everyone seemed pretty fired up. It was a wicked atmosphere.
The game itself was pretty tough. The ball was in play quite a lot so there was a lot of running and it felt fast paced too. Even the collisions were fast and hard. When something happened on the field you could hear the crowd erupt. It puts a little bit more pressure on you, even when we were scrummaging the crowd were going mental. I think it all helps when you’re trying to step it up a notch.
With five minutes to go I was feeling a little nervous, but I just tried to concentrate on getting off the ground quickly and doing everything I could to get back in the game. I was right behind Jimmy when the Welsh lock picked off the interception. I realised that Jimmy or I didn’t have a chance of catching him; I could see him pulling away on the big screen. I must admit I thought, “Oh no, this is it!” Then Zac (Guildford) smoked across hard and put a stop to it. So I just put my head down and got back there as fast as I could. Before I knew it the final whistle blew. We won the game 19-12.
Prince William visited the changing room after the match. I said “G’day” to him. He seemed like a pretty down to earth kind of guy. I usually just chill out after the game, just take my time around the changing shed. I don’t eat much; I just like to relax and think about the game while I take a shower. That always helps me slowly unwind. I’m usually one of the last guys to be ready.
I had to get all my stuff organised and ready to go to Milan on Sunday morning. I tried to keep my stuff reasonably tidy this week so it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to pack up. Somehow I still managed to leave it to the last minute to pack and ended up chucking all my stuff into the case.
So now I’m in Milan starting the preparation for the Italy game and I’m rooming with Thommo (Adam Thomson). He seems pretty tidy. He hasn’t unpacked his bag yet, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.