'Smell of death' in All Blacks dressing room - Oliver

Last updated 00:00 08/10/2007
JOHN SELKIRK / Fairfax Media
BAD DREAM: Anton Oliver is almost ghost-like as his image appears on the big screen in Cardiff as he reflects on the All Blacks quarterfinal World Cup exit.

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Anton Oliver reckoned the All Blacks dressing room had the same stench of death as a World War 1 battle field.

The veteran hooker has developed a passion for New Zealand's war history and had read World War 1 books The Massacre at Passchendaele and All Quiet on the Western Front during the past few weeks in France.

The images from those two books were an apt description for how the All Blacks had felt as they sat, devastated, in their dressing room deep in the bowels of the Millennium Stadium in the wake of their historic 20-18 World Cup quarter final loss to France yesterday, Oliver said.

"The feeling in the shed is like no-man's land as it's described in those two books. There's a sort of desolate decay and the smell of death," said Oliver.

"That's what it feels like to us. It feels like no-man's land and it's not a nice place to be."

Oliver, who has now lost at two World Cups, anticipated the sense of anger, loss and disappointment many New Zealand rugby fans would be experiencing in the wake of the All Blacks worst ever World Cup defeat.

"So come into no-man's land with us," Oliver said.

"We can make a cup of tea together because it's a difficult time."

Oliver is one of those players bowing out at the World Cup, along with Luke McAlister, Carl Hayman, Byron Kelleher, Doug Howlett, Chris Jack and Aaron Mauger.

He admitted it was hard to say farewell on such terms.

"I didn't want to take my jersey off. No one wants to finish their career like this. The country and the team had such high hopes."

Those hopes were crushed by a French side that had been regularly beaten by the All Blacks in recent years but played superbly yesterday especially on defence.

Oliver said the All Blacks didn't lose from a lack planning or commitment, but because France were simply better on the day.

"The French, in the second half, defended really well and we made some mistakes. That was it."

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