Rugby: All Blacks happy to back free speech

2nd October 2007, Comments 0 comments

2 October 2007, CARDIFF (AFP) - For the All Blacks, the World Cup's overwhelming favourites, silence is not golden and they want everyone to know.

2 October 2007

CARDIFF (AFP) - For the All Blacks, the World Cup's overwhelming favourites, silence is not golden and they want everyone to know.

Constantly in demand by the international media, the squad players have all been schooled in how to deal with the press and, according to team spokesman Scott Compton, are actively encouraged to speak their minds.

That even includes the thorny issue of squad rotation.
"We say: 'Look it's OK, express your opinion, say I want to play every weekend, but this is for the good of the team'," said Compton who reckons there has been two hours of media training in the last three years.

"The training there is not to tell them what to say but to tell them to give their opinion," he said.

"In the old days, it was very difficult for them. They felt they had to say 'I support the policy'. But we're trying to give them a little bit more room to say 'I want to play every week'."

"The training is more about attitudes. We'll try to make more of an effort to talk with the public, particularly the public in New Zealand because they are important. 

"If I shake hands, I only do it with one person. If I talk to a news wire service, I can talk to 100,000 people."

Some of the players are better than others, says Compton, but with experience they are becoming more comfortable.

One of those is Isaia Toeava who was on edge every time he dealt with reporters when he made his breakthrough in 2005.
"He was 19, had very little experience of the media and during his first tour, the poor boy was just sweating anytime he had to go to the media," said Compton.

"Here we are, two years later, he's comfortable. He's a little bit shy but he's not terrified."

Keven Mealamu, eight years Toeava's senior, has taken his colleague under his wing.

"He is still a young man," said Mealamu. "I helped him relax more. He is very noisy with us but is quieter with the journalists."

There are some topics which are off the agenda.

"We don't want players to talk about tactics," said Compton.

"What I say to the players is: 'Don't say 'no comment'. Say, look, I can't tell you that right now because it would help the opponents, but what I can tell you is that we think it's going to be very physical and this is what we are expecting from the game'.

"The rules would be 'don't talk about other people and other teams, just talk about yourself'."


Subject: French news

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