Four days before the start of the World Cup, the All Blacks insist they can overcome their reputation as chokers in the sport's biggest event.
New Zealand has been the pre-eminent team over the quarter-century of the World Cup's existence but had failed to translate that dominance onto the biggest stage, winning just one World Cup, the inaugural tournament in 1987, which it also hosted.
That chink in the All Black armour had prompted much heartache for New Zealand fans and rare opportunities for rivals to question and even mock an otherwise formidable team.
"We haven't won many of these tournaments, in case you hadn't noticed," joked centre Conrad Smith during a press conference Monday.
Smith said in past tournaments New Zealand had made the mistake of relying on year-round good form. This time, he said, the players recognize the unique importance of the tournament and have tailored their preparation.
"When we've come into these tournaments, maybe in the past we've relied on that, because it's won us a lot of test matches," he said.
"But other countries, they are able to step up a notch, and maybe that's what we haven't done."
"The main thing we've talked about is how this is different, how this is unique," Smith said. "We are not just going to roll into this tournament and expect things that worked for us in the past are going to work again."
Prop John Afoa said those who doubt the team's ability to overcome the past should think again.
"It's a different team, a different situation," Afoa said.
"It is the World Cup but with the personnel we've got ... this team is full of confidence."
The players appeared relaxed at the media conference. Perhaps going off-script, Smith even acknowledged the players "haven't spent too much time" focusing attention on Tonga, whom the All Blacks are expected to easily beat when they play in the World Cup opener on Friday.
Other players said there should be plenty of support for the Tongan team, given Auckland's strong links with the South Pacific and large Pacific Island community.
Wing Cory Jane, a big fan of Twitter, said he was itching to send some tweets after team management recently imposed a ban on social media that lasts for the duration of the tournament.
"I'm checking it every 10 minutes to see what's going on," he said.
He said the worst thing is when somebody writes something that he wants to respond to, but he can't.
Auckland has adorned many of its streets with posters and there are plenty of cars driving past with flags flying in support of the 20 countries that will participate in the World Cup which lasts seven weeks.
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