It's not really hard to troll an All Black fan. You can go down the well-travelled route of English rugby journalists, pointing out our flaws, perhaps questioning the players' country of origin; but this only strengthens our resolve. No the best way to hurt us to follow the example of my contact with adidas in Japan. Dave is a huge Australian rugby fan and constantly taunted me with: "Mate, the All Blacks are unbeatable, you're looking great for the cup".
I can handle losing the World Cup. In fact I have often joked that it's now a quadrennial tradition. What gets me every time is that on paper we look like we should win. Fucking paper. At the last world cup, our on-paper quality was so good that we didn't get knocked off the offical world #1 spot until South Africa won (and then they held that spot for one game before we got it back).
This is the painful part of following a successful team: when you don't win it all, you feel like you've lost everything. You look back over everything that you did; you start to second guess every decision; you search for patterns. How did this all happen? Then we project this hindsight forward.
We look at this new group named to open the Cup against Tonga and we wonder: why him? Why not the person I would've selected? That way, madness lies.
But if you really want to scare yourself, just take a look at the last cup.
In 2007 I wrote my first posts for Public Address, alongside my sports blogging mates The Dropkicks, under the banner of Some Foreign Field (Sept-Oct 07). I've been re-reading them in horror. The comments especially fill me with dread, because I am seeing the same things being said now. Most notable is this post, written after pool play, as we prepared for the now infamous game against France (and I quite proudly note it was reported in French newspaper Le Post, so far my only international plaudits).
Comments in that post include lines like: "I’m still picking us to beat the French by a substantial margin" and "yes, we’ll do over France. Get confident people!" Alongside comments like: "Why on Earth would you say such a thing? Have you not learned from years gone by? HUBRIS PEOPLE! WE’RE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS"
Note also in that thread, discussions about fullbacks being moved to the centres. We haven't changed much. So many of the conversations on those Some Foreign Field blogs could have been written today. Even Tracey Nelson complaining that the price of flights had gone up.
And now Tonga is making the bookies nervous. Tonga! I know they did well at the last cup and have an amazing level of support here, but seriously? The first games are not for nervousness, they are for us to wonder which player will lose it all for us in the knock out phase.
Christ, please let us win so we can get over this.