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?
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
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

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?