Modest Mealamu plays down starring role

Keven Mealamu has put his try double in New Zealand's Tri-Nations victory over Australia down to good fortune. [more]

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Keven Mealamu has put his try double in New Zealand’s Tri-Nations victory over Australia down to good fortune.

Mealamu was the first hooker to claim a brace of five-pointers in a Test since Anton Oliver against Scotland six years ago.

But the Aucklander, whose points scoring helped the All Blacks to a 32-12 win over the Wallabies in Christchurch, was typically modest.

He said: "It was just a bit of luck. It was good pressure from the forward pack. It was good we were able to apply pressure when they were one man down.

"Collectively we had a bit more focus and it’s hard when you have a loosie out, especially defensively, and we were able to exploit that.

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"It was a good step up from the last couple of weeks and we’re heading in the right direction."

Mealamu had received criticism for his line-out throwing, but he finished with a perfect record as New Zealand won all nine of their throws.

Mealamu earned an even rarer honour later in the game – a standing ovation for a Blues captain at the home of their fierce Crusaders rivals.

And the number two was also praised by former Auckland and All Blacks prop John Drake.

Drake, now a TV commentator and newspaper columnist, wrote in The New Zealand Herald: "Mealamu had a very ordinary Super 14 after the Blues captaincy was thrust upon him.

"There were questions about his form around the field and his line-out throwing.

"He certainly received plenty of advice about line-outs and I was among those who believed he needed to get the ball in quicker.

"Instead, Mealamu said prior to the Test match that he believed in taking more time to make sure he got things right. Which he did.

"It’s almost as if you have an extra back when Mealamu is on form, the way he can jink and swerve about. And at one point he looked like the Aussie league great Arthur Beetson, the way he flung a pass through a tackle.

"I’ve often wondered whether Mealamu would have it at scrum time at Test level, but clearly there are no problems there."

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