Jane relishes return to debut venue
October 25, 2010
Cory Jane hopes to cause more headaches for the Australian defence © Getty Images
It might be a dead rubber to some, a precious chance to impress for others, but the fourth Bledisloe test in Hong Kong this Saturday brings back happy memories for All Black Cory Jane, who made his test debut in the inaugural fixture two years ago.
Jane is a regular in Graham Henry's All Blacks these days and the wing is enjoying a returning to the venue where his journey as an international began - Hong Kong Stadium.
Even though the 27-year-old doesn't remember that particular match too fondly - he feels as though he was an afterthought in selectors' minds at the time - he happily recalls the progress he has made since that six-minute cameo.
"Everyone was getting on except for me," he said, recalling one of the prouder moments of his sporting career. "I kept looking up at the coach's box pretending to stretch. I was trying to give them signals to put me out there. It took a while, I was starting to get pissed off. I thought `they're not going to put me on, it's going to be embarrassing'. And then Ice (Isaia Toeava) went down with cramp and they called my number."
Jane has only one clear recollection of his belated cameo -- marking a high ball and skewing his kick into touch. However, he made a far more positive impression on Henry, who focused on a crucial tackle and turnover in practically one motion as the Wallabies threatened to overturn a 19-14 deficit.
Richie McCaw may have scored the match-winning try, but Jane's ability to thwart that Wallabies attack was also instrumental in the All Blacks clinching another tight trans-Tasman encounter. It was those abilities -- and his versatility -- that endeared one of the team's free spirits to Henry.
Jane played the second half of the Grand Slam test with Scotland and the midweek match at Munster on his first end of year tour -- he can expect a heavier workload on this excursion. The Wellington and Hurricanes fullback will earn his 21st cap if selected on the right wing -- evidence of his status as a prototype of the modern day back three player.
Henry opted to play three specialist fullbacks at the end of the successful Tri-Nations campaign and although Israel Dagg's leg injury should see a genuine wing face Australia on Saturday, Jane's future seems secure. Jane's positioning was exposed by the French at Carisbrook in June last year when he made his run-on debut, but since then he has looked increasingly assured on the flank.
"The best thing about coming in this year is I wasn't a fullback/winger kind of thing," said Jane, who has played in each of the All Blacks' nine tests in 2010. "They told me Israel (Dagg) and Mils (Muliaina) were the fullbacks so all I did was focus on winger moves, positioning ... I think that helped me this year."
Jane, meanwhile, is feeling more in tune with his surroundings in Hong Kong second time around.
"I remember the first time I came here, we had our own rooms and I was shitting myself," he said. "I didn't know if I was late for a meeting or what to wear. I was texting Piri (Weepu) and Ma'a (Nonu) the whole time, every five seconds. Now I've been in the team for a couple of years I'm a bit more relaxed.
"It's been a great little journey over the last couple of years," he said, assessing his development since that six-minute cameo. "It's like everyone, you just want an opportunity really. That's the only thing that holds you back. You might get a couple of minutes here and there in games, it's too hard to show yourself. Once you start a few games, you get to show a little bit more. You don't have to try and rush every time you get the ball."
The All Blacks and Wallabies hit the training ground in earnest on Sunday having recovered from their flights. And although the test has proved a hard sell in the former British colony, Jane said there would be no lack of intensity as the All Blacks attempt a second consecutive Bledisloe Cup white wash.
"Everyone talks about dead rubber, but with any sport when New Zealand play Aussie, no one wants to lose to each other," Jane said.
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