Jonah Lomu (Gallo Images)
London – All Black heroes Richie McCaw and Dan Carter must control the emotion of the World Cup final or risk letting Australia whisk the trophy away from them, rugby legend Jonah Lomu told AFP on Friday.
The 40-year-old Lomu – one of the greatest players of all time even though he never won a World Cup – said his big concern about New Zealand was that they would lose the mental battle.
“This is the big beast for the All Blacks,” said Lomu.
“It’s the one thing I worry about with the All Blacks as they need to prepare for the game and leave their emotions aside.
“For those playing that is the beast to tame. If you can control that then you’re home if you can’t then you have played the game before you get out there.
“You can’t get any stronger fitter or faster but you can be more mentally prepared I always say the top two inches count and in this case it has to work towards containing one’s emotions.
“There are several of the talismanic players who will have to do this,” said Lomu.
In a mass shakeout, Carter, Conrad Smith and Keven Mealamu are all leaving All Black duty at the end of the game. Skipper McCaw has said he will announce on returning to New Zealand whether he will carry on.
Lomu was in the New Zealand side that lost to South Africa in the 1995 World Cup final and to France in the 1999 semi-final.
He said the emotion would be different however for those players in their last games for the All Blacks.
“This is different because the emotions you had to control before was about being over-zealous for playing,” said Lomu.
“Now this is the last time they will ever pull on the black shirt and that is a different kettle of fish to deal with.
“It is a chapter closing and how they deal with that and if it does play on your mind.
“There will be a lot of relieved guys if they achieve their goal at the end but if you underestimate the Aussies then they will get you.”
Lomu, who had to quit the sport in 2002 because of Nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease that has left him in need of a second kidney transplant, said he was not surprised at Michael Cheika’s success in turning the Wallabies into a formidable unit.
“The core of the players are from his Waratahs team (Bernard Foley, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Michael Hooper) and he knows how they go,” said Lomu.
“He’s a smart guy who understands his team and what it takes to win. His successes as coach speaks for itself but for him to do what he’s done is absolutely amazing.
“But he’s also got some great players Hooper, (David) Pocock, (Will) Genia and Folau and the list goes on.
“If those guys come together it will be a fantastic game.”
Some of the greats who will be leaving the All Blacks started as he was playing his last games.
“Thankfully Carter is getting the final he has been longing for. Richie is leading out the team for the 140 plus time and he will do the job he was meant to do, it will be a hard fought battle but also emotionally draining for a lot of people,” said Lomu.
“I was there when Richie played his first match, Dan I played against and with him and Keven (Mealamu) when he played his first Test match.
“I was alongside Richie when he had his first cut in Test rugby, he split his head open in Ireland and I tapped him on the side and I said ‘don’t be too long and he tells the doc to strap it up and then put a scrum cap over the bandage and he’s back out there’!
“Hopefully tomorrow we will absolutely give it to them and I will see them do it with my wife, my two boys and mother-in-law… got to have the boss there mate!”