A fascinating insight into the mentality the Lions will face from the All Blacks has been delivered from within the Kiwi camp.
The world champions’ mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka has revealed how he introduced a “no dickheads” policy, which is operated by the players themselves.
Enoka has worked with the All Blacks for 16 years, during which time they have won back-to-back World Cups.
He says the point of the policy is to wean out inflated egos and make everything about the team, with his central belief being you can’t “be a positive person on the field and a prick off it”.
“A dickhead makes everything about them,” he told Adidas’s Gameplan A.
“They are people who put themselves ahead of the team, people who think they’re entitled to things, expect the rules to be different for them, people operating deceitfully in the dark, or being unnecessarily loud about their work.
“Often teams put up with it because a player has so much talent. We look for early warning signs and wean the big egos out pretty quickly. Our motto is, if you can’t change the people, change the people.
“The management might not spot these counterproductive behaviours. The players and leaders themselves should call others out for their inflated egos.
“Our coach Steve Hansen, a brilliant man, once came into a team meeting a few minutes late.
Enoka was pivotal in introducing the Kapa o Pango haka in 2005, which was designed to make the Maori ritual seem relevant again. He says culture is crucial to any team.
“You can have all the strategies in the world, but in the end, what will enable you to overachieve – or underachieve – is your culture,” he said.
“We nourish the All Blacks culture every day by drawing from our rich Maori heritage. In our cornerstone philosophies, the team towers above the individual. You will never succeed on your own, but you will be successful as an individual if the team functions well.
“As the custodian of the culture, I make sure everyone has a sense of belonging. When you walk to the pitch, you should feel you belong to this place and that it’s fed and nourished by the people. Too many organisations focus on the vision and values when they should feed a sense of belonging instead, especially if you’re working with a myriad of cultures.
“As a team, you can sit down and allow yourself to be vulnerable. It’s a powerful strategy – once I’m prepared to share my vulnerability, and everyone else is too, we create an environment that becomes a culture of acceptance.”