'You don't play to draw': All Blacks veteran Keven Mealamu backs England captain
All Blacks veteran Keven Mealamu had no hesitation in backing England captain Chris Robshaw's decision to go for the try during the much talked about "Pool of Death" match against Wales at Twickenham on Sunday.
Mealamu didn't get much sleep in the All Blacks hotel following an England-Wales belter that left Cardiff central looking like a war zone the following morning.
But he was wide awake when asked what he would have done if he'd been in Robshaw's boots with his side trailing 28-25 in the closing stages and a penalty on offer that could have secured the draw.
"I'd back what they did. You play to win the game, you don't play to draw," Mealamu said without hesitation.
Mealamu's response provided an interesting rebuttal to the instant criticism Robshaw received in some quarters for deciding to go for a lineout instead of the penalty.
England might feel they can't win, often criticised for being too conservative, but now under the microscope for chasing a try.
"It was a tough kick. We weighed up the options, we wanted to go for the win," Robshaw said after the match.
The argument for going for the draw was that two points would have not only been better than one for England, but also robbed Pool A rivals Wales of two of the four points they gained for the win.
Whatever the case, Mealamu said his only complaint about the match was that Welsh fans in Cardiff prevented him from going to sleep.
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"I didn't get to sleep because I could just hear 'Wales, Wales' with people screaming outside my bedroom. It was a great game. "It's one of the best spectacles you can see when a game comes right down to the end. It's good to see that sort of tight rugby early in this competition."
All Blacks prop Wyatt Crockett said watching Wales' comeback had been inspirational.
"I love watching a team when they are under that sort of pressure. Dealing with all those injuries to watch them fight it out and scrap that game out was inspiring.
"Hopefully we can have that sort of resolve if anything like that happens to us… I'm sure the Welsh boys will be looking back on that tape with a lot of pride and they'll be a tough side to beat."
Mealamu and Crockett were wisely less committal when asked which team he had been supporting saying the All Blacks were just focusing on their next match against Georgia at Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Though it had been difficult to source a lot of footage on the Georgian players, Mealamu said the All Blacks were preparing for a tough battle up front and prepared for a different style of physicality from a country where various forms of wrestling are a tradition.
The Georgian national team are known as the Lelos and one of the country's more brutal sports is called Lelo burti, a combination of rugby and wrestling.
"It's [wrestling techniques] something we've looked into," Mealamu said. "I think some people call it [Lelo burti] pummelling as well. I think that stuff really applies to driving mauls and you sort of get found out in different positions where you have to work back to work closely with teammates.
"It's something we've looked into with the different styles you encounter up here."
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