Player Diary: Anton Oliver

    10 Nov 2006    

Waking up at about 5:30am isn't doing my roommate Conrad [Smith] any favours.

Last night at 9-o'clock I was in bed. I have to sort that out because we're playing at 9pm this Saturday - maybe some liniment and the sound of sprigs on concrete might wake me up a bit.

In New Zealand I probably sleep until 6:30-7am - especially when daylight saving kicks in. I live in a loft above an art gallery in Dunedin and it’s quite high up in the trees. Every morning I get woken by a blackbird singing his song. He’s a lovely chap – especially when he starts up at 4:30am.

First thing this morning I fluffed around in the team room before breakfast and then had our standard meeting before training.

These meetings are a pre-cursor to what we are going to be doing at training. Because this week has been condensed, we have had to squeeze attack and defence in today. Wayne Smith is our attack coach and Graham Henry the defence so we had a lot of ground to cover.

We covered what we want to do on Saturday and what the French are good at so there was a lot of information and, as a consequence, we didn’t train that well.

It’s been warm here – about 20 degrees -- so a fair bit of gravy’s been coming out of the boys and training today went for an inordinately long time so it was a rush back to the hotel.

I think the travel and last week’s game has taken more out of us than we expected and the guys who played last Saturday are just coming right. I haven’t been out of the hotel except to train and that looks to continue until we travel to Lyon tomorrow.

I heard that one of the television stations back home has been showing shots of the hotel and us swimming in pools in the sun – making out that we’re having a little sojourn in the Mediterranean but it’s been anything but!

Yesterday I didn’t have enough time to scratch my face; we haven’t been into town; haven’t seen any sights; the pool is freezing and we’re only in there as part of our recovery session.

We’ve been training our butts off.

After training I zipped up to do some media and then decided not to go to the gym because I needed to clarify all my moves. Then I had to pack my bags because they needed to be on the truck to Lyon before I had another meeting.

Some of the lads had a class where some very attractive local women attempted to teach them French – which, as a single guy I really should have been partaking in but for my meeting.

I later heard that the other single chaps had well and truly covered the market in that regard. It’s every man for himself when it comes to la femme I think.

I’ve been to France several times but I’m not a great mimic of language – I can’t phonically listen to something and regurgitate it. Even if I repeated something 10 times I would instantly forget it.

I’m looking forward to Saturday and the French are a team that, when they get it right, play with utter passion and can play like a juggernaut which is almost impossible to stop.

Like the All Blacks they like to attack so when we play them usually it’s a very exciting game. Both sides back themselves and like to play with width and they break tackles and offload – very slippery characters.

The English are different – they try to play attacking football but it’s not intrinsically their game.

There are a few New Zealanders playing here in France and I talked to [former All Blacks] Carl Hoeft and Kees Meeuws a couple of days ago. I had an offer to come and play here last year but I have decided to see if I can make next year’s world cup so that’s where all my focus is.

Even though it would have been more money, everybody needs to makes sacrifices.

Last time we played the French over here we gave it a good nudge in Paris and we’re hoping for another good result.

Cheers, Hatch