Oliver talked Marshall into playing Lions series
July 11, 2005
All Blacks hooker Anton Oliver may have been ruled out of the Lions rugby series through injury, but he stilled played a pivotal role in the 3-0 series whitewash.
It was revealed in Justin Marshall's self-titled biography released today that Oliver, the former All Blacks captain who is nursing a torn calf muscle, talked the veteran halfback into making himself available for the Lions series
Marshall, who played his 81st test on Saturday and had strong series, originally told All Blacks coach Graham Henry a week before the Super 12 final that he would not be available for the All Blacks.
A media firestorm ensued in late May when Marshall said he felt the All Black selectors would choose rival and incumbent Byron Kelleher for the series.
Marshall questioned his commitment to the All Blacks and also accused Henry of being a poor communicator.
In his book Marshall confirms he told Henry the day after the Super 12 semifinal that he did not have the right attitude to face the Lions if he could not be guaranteed a starting spot.
"I can't believe I said it. But I did," Marshall recalls in his book.
"I told him I was unavailable for the All Blacks to play the Lions. And as I was saying it, my voice sounded like the voice of a stranger. I could hear the emotion in it."
Marshall said a day later he received a call from Oliver who told him he should reconsider his decision.
"When you get into territory, you get into dangerous ground where people think that you believe you're bigger than the game and bigger than the All Blacks and bigger than the jersey," Oliver told Marshall.
"You might not think it's right and people might not think it's right (that you're on the bench), but you've got to be above that. Don't leave with a sour taste in your mouth because you don't deserve to."
Marshall now credits that call from Oliver in being instrumental in reversing his earlier decision.
Henry has publicly stated that he believed Marshall had always been available for the series.
Marshall states in his book that after the Super 12 final triumph over the Waratahs he phoned Henry to confirm he was 100 percent committed to playing the Lions if the selectors wanted him.
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