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'Sometimes the harder you try, the worse it can get': Sam Cane on All Blacks turnaround

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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All Black captain Sam Cane is extremely satisfied and proud after his side arrested their three-match losing streak with a 35-23 win over South Africa at Ellis Park.

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“A massively satisfying win, partly because of what’s been going on building up to this moment,” Cane said.

“Playing South Africa at Ellis Park is a one-off fixture itself, it is a massive challenge.

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“What we’ve been through the last month in terms of not performing where we want to be. To be able to deliver under a pressure occasion, it was massively satisfying.”

The All Blacks built a 21-13 lead that quickly became a 23-21 deficit when sub Beauden Barrett was yellow carded for taking out Springbok scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse off the ball.

Handre Pollard took the lead with a penalty goal but it could have been much worse with a potential try in the offering as the loose ball was hacked toward the All Blacks in goal.

However, that was the last scoring play for South Africa as the All Blacks stormed home with two tries to secure a bonus point win.

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Cane highlighted the team’s response while down to 14 men as one moments to be ‘most proud of’ from their win, as they were able to launch a deep counter attack and score a try on the same possession and take back the lead.

“Probably one of the things we can be most proud of as a team,” Cane said.

“I believe when you are on a bit of a win streak or things have been going well and you have been in those positions before and come out the other side, the belief is strong.

“I said last week the belief within the group is really good, we’ve had moments over the last month or so in similar positions where we haven’t come out on the right side of them.

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“To be able to do that and show that sort of composure in that pressure moment with it all on the line was really pleasing.”

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The All Blacks openside was a member of the Chiefs side that went winless in Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2020 and was asked about that experience.

Once the Chiefs came out of their funk and broke the losing streak, the ‘shackles’ were broken and they played with freedom to reach the final the next season in 2021.

“There are some similarities I suppose [with the Chiefs], one being that once we got over our hump, we went on a bit of a run all the way to a final,” Cane said.

“It’s almost like breaking the shackles a little bit, just some extra weight that you are carrying on your shoulders.

“You know that in sport and in general, sometimes the harder you try, the worse it can get.

“That’s the balancing act when things aren’t going right, not trying too hard and overplaying your hand a little bit when you want it so badly.

“I don’t think we did that last night, we had a really good balance and hopefully we took a massive step in the right direction.”

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