Still scarred by 1999, admits All Black Kelleher

4th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

3 October 2007, CARDIFF (AFP) - New Zealand scrum-half Byron Kelleher, one of his team's three survivors from the nightmare 1999 World Cup semi-final defeat to France, admitted on Wednesday he had been left scarred by the experience.

3 October 2007

CARDIFF (AFP) - New Zealand scrum-half Byron Kelleher, one of his team's three survivors from the nightmare 1999 World Cup semi-final defeat to France, admitted on Wednesday he had been left scarred by the experience.

Kelleher and hooker Anton Oliver will hope to erase those memories when they come face-to-face with the French in Saturday's quarter-final against the French at the Millennium Stadium here.

Lock Reuben Thorne, the other survivor from eight years ago, will watch from the stands.

"It left a deep scar in the back of my mind and we are trying to correct it," said the 30-year-old Kelleher who will win his 57th cap in the game.

"I was pretty young at that stage. I certainly carried some scarring from the game. Heading back there and seeing the whole country in mourning, that is not a very nice feeling at all.

"That is why I have hung around rugby and I think that we have the strategies right this time and we believe in our systems. The team is a different team to 1999."

The game at Twickenham was one of the most thrilling ever played in the World Cup.

New Zealand led 17-10 at the break but in an astonishing second-half turnaround, France stormed to victory 43-31 against shell-shocked opponents.

Four years ago, the All Blacks again came up short, this time losing 22-10 to Australia in the semi-finals.

"I've described 2003 as a slow strangulation by the Australians," said Oliver.

"I think 1999 was a mugging. It went so quickly, once the wheels fell off we couldn't regain our composure and we were completely lost.

"I think that 1999 semi-final is incredibly relevant in general, but I think as a current player not so much.

"If I am still grieving after that then I need to see some professional psychiatric help. It was years ago and I would really have some issues. It took me a year or two to finally accept that one, but as a player now we can only deal with the now.

"In saying that you can't just block out the bad stuff, you have to block out the good stuff too. We have not talked about the good victories we have had against the French because you can't be selective like that. It is just the past, you have to move on."

AFP

Subject: German news

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