A Knight’s Tale - Paul Roberts: We want to build a winning mentality like the All Blacks

Saturday morning I sat and watched yet another stunning All Blacks victory.

New Zealand were down to 14 men and ten points behind with 20 minutes spare. They were then six points down as they began what turned out to be the final attack.

The eventual try, and game-winning conversion from Colin Slade, seemed almost inevitable. This win was added to what is becoming a long list of incredible late victories for this current New Zealand team.

Twitter was abuzz with people commending this team on their culture and winning mentality. The win brought back memories from a year ago when they came back from 19-0 down in Ireland to again snatch victory on the last play of the game, to complete an undefeated calendar year.

The characteristics that make this team have been developed over time and through experience. The self-belief is a little easier to come by when you win a World Cup and go undefeated for almost two years.

It is the type of culture and winning mentality that we have been trying to build together at Doncaster.

It is something we really started to show towards the end of last season when strong performances late in games gave us key victories over Tynedale, Coventry and Blackheath. That experience and belief from last year, and the addition of some great players over the summer has certainly carried us forward for this season. It has shone through too - in particular in our last three games.

Yes, one of those games was a loss at home to Cornish Pirates and a match we were gutted to lose, but it was another example of a match in which we played right to the end even if, on that occasion, our only reward was a losing bonus point. Fortunately, over the last two weeks, those characteristics have resulted in victories. One involved staying strong in defence away at Cross Keys and the other was our very own ‘All Blacks style’ last play of the game to win back at home against the Pirates. Hopefully it’s a win that stays strong in the memory so that it may be drawn upon for when a last-ditch effort is inevitably required again.