New Zealand v Australia, Bledisloe Cup
Cory Jane shocked by call-up
October 17, 2013
Cory Jane returned to action recently for Wellington Lions in the ITM Cup © Getty Images
Cory Jane just hopes he can keep up when he ends his 11-month hiatus from Test rugby in the third Bledisloe Cup match against Australia at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday.
Jane, 30, confessed to being surprised when All Blacks coach Steve Hansen told him he would start against the Wallabies, believing he may have been called south simply to have his fitness assessed and to be part of the Test build-up in Dunedin. Instead, he has been rewarded for his diligent recuperation from a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery in March.
"I've gone straight from two ITM Cup games to a Test under a roof against Australia, so you know it's going to be fast," Jane said of his All Blacks selection. "I might struggle a bit."
Jane, who realised he had some fast catching up to do only when Hansen tapped him on a shoulder, had noted from afar that the unbeaten All Blacks of 2013 were playing a different structure to that he played last year - the outside backs retaining their width rather than roaming for work.
"It's been exciting to watch, I just can't wait to be part of it and get comfortable in the team again."
Season standout Ben Smith's shift from right wing to centre this week has opened the door for the 43-Test veteran.
"It's good that he's been playing good," Jane said of Smith, joking that he had sneaked into the sleeping Highlanders star's room the previous night for a cuddle to "absorb" some of his form and thank him for his shift of position.
"It's also good that he's moving into centre."
Hansen is convinced that Jane is close to regaining his status as one of the world's premier wingers.
"He hasn't lost any form while he's been injured. What he has lost is time in the jersey. Cory needs to not do everything at 100 miles an hour. Just be patient and trust his instincts particularly, because they're very, very good."
All Blacks: Israel Dagg; Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam; Samuel Whitelock, Jeremy Thrush; Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Tom Taylor.
Follow live text commentary of the Bledisloe Cup Test between New Zealand and Australia on Saturday, October 19 from 7pm (NZDT), 5pm (AEDT) and 6am (GMT)
Cory Jane talks about his Test recall