The All Blacks will win (of course) – but just in case, here are our excuses

We'd normally beat the Aussies, but this time it really matters. No wonder we're nervous

We've got our excuses ready – and the first one is a doozy.

Should Australia knock the All Blacks out of the World Cup in tomorrow's semi-final, then here's how New Zealand's litany of whitewash and vindication will run (from most credible to most pathetic):

1. Daniel Carter was injured

2. Richie McCaw has a sore foot

3. It's just not fair!

OK, so they're tenuous lines at best. But if it all goes tits up tomorrow then we'll have plenty of time to fine-tune our position – four more years, in fact, as George Gregan might note. So you can expect a more polished excuse to take its place alongside the food poisoning of 1995, the Wayne Barnes debacle of 2007 and whatever form of shiv-wielding Gallic larceny France pulled on us back in 1999.

And rest assured, you can expect Carter's name – and, more importantly, his absence – to be covered in detail.

Yet in many ways, the injury to the world's best No 10 has oddly lifted an oppressive weight from the psyche of the Kiwi rugby public. We have a habit of arriving at World Cups with the most talented squad in the competition and departing without the silverware. The exit of Carter – a ludicrous amount of talent crammed into an Adonis-like physique – is as harsh an injury blow as a team could ever take. But when he went, Carter surely took any complacency with him. If his exit hasn't gone so far as to remove the crushing weight of expectation, it's at least put that expectation into focus, made each player more aware of what they must do to carry their load and more.

So, Carter? Better off without him? Not quite.

An NZRU insider was overheard just days before the No 10's injury professing the union's happiness with the work of the coaches. His one reservation: Graham Henry and co had never really sorted out adequate cover for Carter.

With Carter gone, and his deputy Colin Slade invalided with a spookily similar groin injury, the All Blacks have turned to Aaron Cruden and Stephen Donald, two men who have been tried in the Test No 10 jersey and are widely regarded as having failed. On the happier side of the ledger, the halfback Piri Weepu grabbed the All Black team by the scruff of the neck against the physical challenge of Argentina in last weekend's quarter-final, imposing himself not just upon the result (which was never really in doubt), but more so upon his team-mates. Weepu – an occasional goalkicker and no friend of the team dietician – could never have seized the helm had Carter still been fit. So, in the absence of one great All Black, a very good one steps forward. It was ever thus.

Yes, the excuses are in place, but the anxiety remains.

The thing that makes us even more nervous than the absence of Carter is the presence of "Bill". When the Webb Ellis Cup is at stake, the straight line that New Zealand rugby tends to walk suddenly becomes a circus high-wire with no net. If tomorrow's match were just another of the dozen or so Tests we seem to play against Australia in any given calendar year, then New Zealand rugby fans would be content with the positive omens – we've won 11 of our last 13 matches against them; Quade Cooper's form is comically bad, the loose forwards' guild having figured him out; we haven't lost to them at Eden Park since 1986. But it's not just another game.

The combination of a World Cup on home soil, all those four-year cycles of failure and a Wallaby team rich in Kiwi-raised talent hits the sweet spot of All Black anxiety.

It might surprise fans of lesser teams (ie you lot), but there's actually very little pleasure to be had from supporting the All Blacks.

Yes, they win more games than everyone else, and do so in a style most rivals can only dream of playing. But for more than a century the whole enterprise has been driven by fear of failure – a point only exacerbated by the invention of these accursed World Cups. That's why us Kiwis make a terrible sports crowd: you can't sing when your teeth are grinding.

So, will we win?

Yes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli posed for this selfie during AC Milan's 5-1 defeat to Manchester City
sport
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + ents
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Sport
sport
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried