Rugby World Cup 2019: The secret to keeping calm inside the All Blacks camp

'Pressure' and 'mind games' - those three words have dominated every press conference in the build-up to Saturday night's Rugby World Cup semi-final between the All Blacks and England. 

England coach Eddie Jones started that dialogue on Monday, when he delivered his classic one-liner: "pressure is chasing [the All Blacks] down the street". 

And the All Blacks haven't shied away from that. Coach Steve Hansen bit back, but he quickly admitted Jones was right. 

"I think early in our history, we ran away from it, so it was chasing us down the street, but these days, we've had to acknowledge it's there."

On Saturday at Yokohama Stadium, Hansen's side can close within one win of an elusive three-peat. 

 Rugby World Cup 2019: The secret to keeping calm inside the All Blacks camp
 Rugby World Cup 2019: The secret to keeping calm inside the All Blacks camp

Jones singled out All Blacks mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka as the man with the toughest job this week and the players also know the importance of keeping things lighthearted within the camp.

"If you stick to rugby 24/7, you get a bit stale and you probably get a bit burnt out," prop Angus Ta'avao told Newshub.

"I like to have a bit of a laugh, so we have a little crew - there's about four of us - who like to boost morale, and have a few little funny things here and there, just to get the boys up and relaxed."

Loose forward Ardie Savea admits they all have different ways of dealing with looming pressure.

"For me, it's trying to get away from it. If I think about it too much, it does my head in, so podcasting, connecting with the brothers…

"It's massive for me during the week, so I'm in the right frame of mind on Saturday."

One way is to hit the streets of Tokyo with Anton Lienert-Brown, making 15-second videos for the app TikTok for Savea's thousands of followers. 

"I'm the type of person who studies the game, and once that's done, if I keep going over it, that's when I start to second guess myself," Savea said. "So then I switch off."

While some dominate the social media scene, others like the Barrett brothers are out playing golf or meeting sporting heroes, like golf's world No.2 Rory McIlroy. 

But the brothers might not be so calm before a major semi-final, if hooker Dane Coles' insight is anything to go by.

"Jordie's a psycho, because he's been bullied by Scooter [Scott] and 'Baz' [Beauden]," Coles told media enthusiastically this week. 

"Scooter's the one who's nice and calm, and Baz is like in-between. He does lose it now and again, but he does have that calm karma about him."

Jokes aside, Ta'avao believes the way they deal with pressure is one of their greatest strengths.

"It's finding that mix - sometimes you probably can cross the line, but I think we've done it pretty good."

Now, a 78,000-strong crowd singing 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' during the haka at Yokohama Stadium on Saturday night awaits.

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join us at 9pm Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v England Rugby World Cup semi-final.

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