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'They're just 15 blokes'

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'They're just 15 blokes' - Former England lock insists All Black admiration must end

Former England lock Geoff Parling – a member of the last England team to beat the All Blacks – believes that opponents need to stop treating the New Zealand national side as if they are different, despite their history.

“I’ve always been frustrated in the past, maybe not just the northern hemisphere teams but anyone playing New Zealand,” Parling told Stuff.

“The way they get spoken about in the press after the games.

“You get beaten off them, well that’s not good enough, because you’ve lost an international game regardless of how good they are.

“You have to respect them but Ireland have certainly shown they’re just 15 blokes on the pitch.

“They’re very good rugby playing blokes but it’s still just 15 blokes.”

35-year-old Parling – now a coach with the Melbourne Rebels – understands why the All Blacks are held in such high regard, but believes the admiration must end.

“The first thing is that they are good, consistently good, so I suppose they have something to back up what people say about them,” he said.

“And when people play against them, if they’ve played them five times and they’d lost five times it probably seeps in.

“It’s there for a reason, they are good, but look at what Ireland did, look at when other teams pushed them.”

Parling also weighed in on the state of Australian rugby, given his standing with the Rebels as a player and now a coach.

“They’ve got athletes,” he told Stuff.

“When they played Ireland I’d say if you looked at the natural-born ability of some of the athletes in the Wallaby team, it’s probably bigger than most of the Irish team.

“It’s just getting these athletes and working out how best to use them and getting them functioning as a team, because that’s what Ireland did to beat the All Blacks.”

Parling began his career in 2003 with Newcastle and made his debut for England in 2012. He had a stint in Japan before joining the Rebels in 2018.

The lock notched 29 tests for England from 2012 to 2015 and made three appearances for the British and Irish Lions on their 2013 tour of Australia.

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'They're just 15 blokes' - Former England lock insists All Black admiration must end