Wellington’s dressing room would have been a psychologist’s dream the day after last night’s Air NZ Cup rugby final.
The pain of losing the game 6-7 to Canterbury has been transformed by an injection of news that eight players – almost a quarter of the 35 All Blacks players named today – will be making a tour for their country.
This included two delighted newcomers.
After their showers, full-back Cory Jane and winger Hosea Gear both received the good news from manager Dean O’Shaughnessey, raising a heavy mood after Wellington’s brilliant season ended on an abysmal note at Westpac Stadium.
“After about 20 minutes in the rain, watching Canterbury go up and receive gold did the atmosphere a disservice,” Gear told NZPA.
“Once we got back to the locker room heads were still a bit down…until the All Blacks were announced. That’s when the boys hit the roof.
It was the same story for Jane, who asked O’Shaughnessey to repeat her name to make sure.
“The boys were jumping up and down, it was good,” he said.
“It was heartbreaking after the game to do so well during the year and then lose.
“But it happened quickly when I found out I was in the All Blacks team.”
Jane said his wife was screaming excitedly on the phone and he felt like doing the same in response.
“I haven’t screamed yet. I might have to go home soon and jump somewhere. Quiet, where no one can see me.
Both players claimed to have surprised their selection, although the drums had been beating for several weeks thanks to their attacking form in a Wellington team which had dominated the competition until last night.
“I always hoped. You hear people say you played well enough to get in, but they (the coaches) pick the team and I’m just glad they did,” Jane said.
“We had a good year. Losing by one point at the end was a bit tough.
Gear said he had little contact with coaches this year despite bursting into form at the Air NZ Cup, where he scored a competition-high 14 tries.
His main contact for advice had been his older brother Rico, the former All Blacks winger who now plays for Worcester in England.
“I called him last night, he’s the second person I spoke to after my partner,” Gear said.
“He was over the moon.
“It (the selection) surprised me a bit because I still have a few aspects of my game to work on.”
Wellington was the most represented union in the All Blacks squad of 35, with midfielders Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu, half-back Piri Weepu, No 8 Rodney So’oialo, lock Ross Filipo and the mainstay Neemia Tialata also getting the green light.
Unlucky teammates included lock Jeremy Thrush, prop John Schwalger and halfback Alby Mathewson.