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Sonny Bill confirms clippings do get stuck on All Blacks changing room wall

By Ian Cameron
Sonny Bill Williams (C) and Malakai Fekitoa (R) of the New Zealand All Blacks relax in the changing room (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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Retired All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams has confirmed that newspaper and media clipping do get stuck to the teams’ changing room walls to serve as pre-match motivation for players.

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It’s one of sports’ oldest clichés but it’s still a thing according to Williams, even in the increasingly sanitised world of professional rugby union.

While players are typically falling over themselves to flatter their opponents in the week leading into a Test match, the odd bit of colour does occasional leak out. This week comments made by Wallabies wing Andrew Kellaway – which Dave Rennie says were taken out of context in headlines – led the panel on Stan Sport in Australia to surmise that his words may have made it into the wall.

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Kellaway had suggested that the All Blacks had lost their aura, saying last week: “I think the cobwebs are out, so to speak. A couple of those boys have played the All Blacks for the first time [now], myself included. Maybe the aura has worn off a little bit.”

The context was that he had played them once at Eden Park and that it was a less daunting task the second time around. Rennie was furious at one headline in one Sydney newspaper, which he felt had been used as grist to the New Zealanders mill heading into Bledisloe II.

“You’ve got a young player who’s played about three tests who gets asked about playing the All Blacks at Eden Park and over a five-minute interview they pluck out three or four words to make a headline,” he said.

“What Kels is saying is last week he was heading into the unknown. The All Blacks at Eden Park, how tough is that? But now we get to play them at the same venue.

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“Incredibly disappointing for a Sydney reporter to make a massive headline out of from a young player who’s just finding his way.

“Clearly we’re not going to try and entice the All Blacks to fire up anymore they normally do.”

And speaking on Stan Sports, Sonny Bill Williams confirmed that clippings of this nature still do get stuck to the wall of the sheds.

“There’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded All Blacks team and we hear all that noise,” said Sonny Bill on Stan Sport. “We might try and say that we drown it out, we don’t listen to it, but there’s newspaper clippings that have been posted on the team wall, in the inner sanctum, that I can say are for motivation.”

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Whether or not Kellaway’s comments made the wall is a matter of conjecture, but judging by the scoreline record 57 – 22 scoreline, the All Blacks weren’t lacking for motivation in this one.

 

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Sonny Bill confirms clippings do get stuck on All Blacks changing room wall

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