THE All Blacks have a famous ‘no d***heads’ policy to stamp out raging egos and selfish behaviour in their rugby union team.
And in his early days as England boss, Gareth Southgate sought advice from New Zealand performance coach Owen Eastwood about how the Maori spirit could lift the Three Lions.
Equally, Southgate could now call on Chelsea star Ben Chilwell, who is an expert in Kiwi culture and their approach to sport.
Chilwell’s dad, Wayne, is from New Zealand and has stressed the importance of the fact there is no ‘i’ in team.
And this has proved to be vital advice for Chilwell, particularly now.
The 24-year-old is in the middle of a raging battle — but on friendly terms — with Marcos Alonso and Luke Shaw over the left-back spots with Chelsea and England.
Asked about the legendary All Blacks philosophy, Chilwell said: “I’ve definitely been made aware of it by my dad.
“He’d tell me all the time the All Blacks are the best team to ever play sport and the way they go about things is very proper.
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“He tried to bring me up on a lot of their ethics and morals. It is about just doing everything right, not taking any shortcuts, being respectful.
“Also, whenever you put your mind on something, do it properly. Do it 100 per cent or don’t do it at all.”
Chilwell, a bright and articulate individual from Milton Keynes, was in Northamptonshire’s cricket academy at 14 before concentrating on football.
And he has been forced to draw on his powers of mental strength after a torrid few months for club and country.
He lost his England spot at Euro 2020 to 26-year-old Shaw and did not feature once during the country’s run to the final.
Alonso, 30, got the nod ahead of Chilwell for Chelsea’s first few games of the season, which then saw him axed from Southgate’s squad for the three World Cup qualifiers in September.
But Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has since handed Chilwell more game time — and the full-back has responded with three goals, while also bagging his first England goal in last month’s 5-0 win over Andorra.
Crucially, he has kept a good relationship with Alonso and Shaw. He said: “Of course I get on with Marcos. We’re two players in the same position but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to get on.
“It’s the same as me and Luke with England. We are very good friends when we’re here. I’d even go as far to say he’s one of my good friends in the team.
“When you’ve got someone in the same position as you, it doesn’t have to be ‘Ah, you’re enemies’. You’re fighting for the same shirt but you can be friends.
“When I step out on to the pitch, on the training pitch, that’s when I want to show that I’m better than them and they’re trying to show they’re better than me.
“But away from that, I think a reason why this group was so successful in the summer was the togetherness.
“On the pitch we can be competitive and fight for the shirts but around the hotel we’re good friends.”
With Manchester United’s Shaw set to be ruled out of tomorrow’s home qualifier against Albania due to concussion protocol, Chilwell is poised to start.
But even if he features prominently over the next 12 months ahead of Qatar 2022, the pain of not playing at Euro 2020 will always be lurking in the background.
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Chilwell added: “It happens to a lot of people in football, there are low moments and high moments.
“I was disappointed I wasn’t playing in such a massive competition in England, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.
“But the way I saw it was I just need to make sure I’m ready, I’ll come through this stronger and better on the other side.”