Doug Howlett On The One Massive Difference Between Northern & Southern Hemisphere Rugby
Doug Howlett has played at the very top both up north and down south.
The former All Blacks and Munster winger reached legendary status in his home country, still leading the try-scoring charts for his national side with an astonishing 49 tries for in 62 Tests, before coming to Munster and lifting the Heineken Cup in his first season.
Stuart Barnes once said ‘if there’s a better finisher in world rugby than Doug Howlett, he’s hidden somewhere in the Amazon,’ and he was damn right. A lethal finisher that was also incredible in defence, Howlett could almost smash his opponents at will.
Having risen to the very top on both sides of the hemisphere, Howlett has revealed the one huge difference in mentality for playing sides. In particular how the All Blacks get ready for their opposition.
Speaking to The42 at the launch of AIG’s Ultimate All Blacks Experience competition, Howlett said the focus over here is mostly on the opposition.
It’s a mindset that I’m conscious of, having come to the northern hemisphere: there’s so much emphasis put on the opposition team.
“The All Blacks on that 2005 tour, sure we knew ‘these are the Lions and these are the players.’ But (the overriding message was) ‘this is what we’re going to do and this is how we’re going to play the game and this is how we’re going to execute.’
“It would probably be 20% about the Lions and 80% about the All Blacks, how we’re going to make them keep up with us.”
As for this summer’s tour, Howlett reckons the Lions will nick one of the Tests, but ultimately the All Blacks will come away with the series.
“Maybe I’m caught up with what’s going on around here, but I’m a little nervous,” Howlett said
“I think the All Blacks will win the series, but I think the Lions will nab one of the Tests, maybe the first. They’ll have had more time together than the All Blacks, and as we all know that All Black team takes a game or two.
“Those Lions players are already steeling themselves , and I keep coming back to the penalty-takers. We saw another display from Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton at the weekend.”