Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Muliaina hails mental toughness

Mils Muliaina

Full-back Mils Muliaina feels New Zealand's recent last-gasp victories over South Africa and Australia prove they have the mental toughness to go with the ability to match any side in the world.

Two tries in the final three minutes saw the All Blacks edge out the Springboks 29-22 in Johannesburg in August to clinch the Tri-Nations trophy before Graham Henry's men turned the tables on the Wallabies last time out in Sydney, fighting back from 22-6 down to secure a 23-22 Bledisloe Cup triumph.

Speaking ahead of New Zealand's clash with Australia in Hong Kong on Saturday, Muliaina said: "There's a real belief that when things aren't going so well we can get out of it, and those two occasions have definitely shown that."

He added: "To come back in Johannesburg and then win the way we did two weekends later when perhaps we should have lost, there is a real belief to be able to come back with 10 minutes or so to go

"But that's not the way we want to play. We don't want to be playing catch-up footy, but it's a good thing that there is a real belief in our camp that we can do the business.

"Whenever we've played this year, we've always talked about the mental side of things. We didn't get our start right (in Sydney) and that's going to be pretty key, but we got there in the end.

"There's certainly aspects of our game that we didn't get right, set-pieces didn't go as well as we wanted and we were under pressure a fair amount so we couldn't really get out of our own half.

"Those are the lessons you've got to take out of that game and certainly we know that given the same position, it will be pretty hard to come back like we did in Sydney. We were pretty stoked to come back and to score two tries and win it the way we did means a lot to us. In years past they've done it to us plenty of times.

"There's a real drive in-house to put pressure on each other, there's real good competition and that's creating a really good edge. If we keep doing that, when the pressure times come on the field, hopefully we can get out of them."

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