Justin Marshall, former New Zealand half-half: ‘Antoine Dupont should be very strong’

Justin Marshall, former New Zealand half-half: ‘Antoine Dupont should be very strong’

On Wednesday at a press conference, New Zealand footballer Aaron Smith had to answer a series of questions regarding the ‘best player in the world’, Antoine Dupont. He was polite, but we felt him annoyed… Justin Marshall, 50, his countryman and incumbent of the decade 1995-2005, continues to think.

“What will you watch first in the half-volley duel between Aaron Smith and Antoine Dupont?
The speed of the ball hitting the rocks improves the flow of the game, and Smith is an incredibly instinctive player. He doesn’t worry about cleaning up or any other parts of his game: his obsession is the fluidity of the team. He is very quick with his passes and very energetic in his decision-making. He scored fewer tries than Dupont, but provided a lot of assists. DuPont’s strength lies in his creativity and explosiveness. He also has a good sense of decision-making, knowing when to take a break, pass or tap with both feet. He is very confident in his game and puts defenders under pressure around the rock more than Smith.

“All this time I spent talking about ‘DuPont is the best player in the world’, maybe that was the fuel Smith was fed on.”

Could Smith be upset when DuPont is mentioned as “the best player in the world”?
Surely when people talk to you all the time about others and not about yourself, it’s… I experienced that when I played against players of the caliber of Georges Gregan (Australia) or Jost van der Westhuizen (South Africa). On the one hand, you are forced to acknowledge their talent, and at the same time, it enhances you. So, the players are on your mind during every training session. It encourages you to never become complacent, it motivates you. All this time spent talking about “DuPont is the best player in the world”, perhaps that was the fuel Smith was feeding on. He has 112 caps, and remains one of the greatest half-half players in the history of the sport. He will end his career after the World Cup and will be keen to make an impression.

What strengths does your compatriot have?
Of course, his main goal will be teamwork, but suppose Smith will have more leeway than DuPont to focus on his individual performance. His weight will be less than that of the Frenchman, who will have to manage the leadership of the team with everything that implies: the flow of the team, the relationship with the referee. But, in addition, the expectations of an entire nation. With the World Player of the Year title on his back, he’ll have fifteen players up against him who will do anything to embarrass him. DuPont must be very strong. But wait, he’s the caliber of great players who can outdo themselves in these situations. It’s strange, but that’s the way it works: great people transcend as adversity adds to them. »

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