All Blacks rule the world but West Ham’s Winston is stuck in training
While New Zealand were winning the rugby World Cup, West Ham defender Winston Reid was busy doing laps of their Chadwell Heath training ground
It was the greatest moment in New Zealand sporting history in 24 years. A nation watched and held its breath as the All Blacks clung on to the narrowest of leads to pip the French by 8-7 and win the Rugby World Cup for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century.
The whole nation that is except for West Ham’s Kiwi central defender Winston Reid – the youngster was at Chadwell Heath on Sunday morning training in preparation for Monday night’s clash at Brighton!
“I watched a little bit of it, but unfortunately it was during a training session on Sunday,” admitted the 23-year-old All-Whites international with a wry smile.
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“In the end, one of the coaches just told me the result after we came off and I was delighted.
“Everyone in New Zealand is a rugby fan and I follow it when I can. It has been a long time since we won it so it was about time and an excellent result.”
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Perhaps it was better that he didn’t have to go through a nerve-wracking World Cup Final, because he had to go through a nervous 90 minutes at the Amex Stadium on Monday night.
Reid had his hands full with Brighton speedster Craig Mackail-Smith, though he felt he kept the striker down to the minimum of chances on the night.
“He was a handful, but you just have to cope with it the best you can,” said Reid, who conceded possession to the forward after seven minutes and could have paid the price as Mackail-Smith shot inches wide.
“He is a busy player, running all around the shop, but I think we dealt with him pretty well, he didn’t have too many chances and from the one he did have, Manny (Almunia) made a really good save.”
Monday’s win returned the team to second place in the table, but Reid still thinks there is plenty of room for improvement.
“The manager has brought in a lot of new players and we have just got to get used to playing with each other,” said Reid. “I think like the rest of the team my own form is getting better too.
“I’m just enjoying myself compared to last season, playing week in, week out, it’s really good. Obviously for the team things are getting better and though we didn’t play the best football against Brighton, we did get the three points and coming to tough places like this, that is really the most important thing.”
The difference in Reid from last season to this is palpable. At times under Avram Grant the World Cup star looked like a little boy lost and was largely frozen out by the Israeli coach.
This time round he has been given some responsibility by Sam Allardyce and has thrived on it, putting in some dominant displays at the heart of the defence.
“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “Playing with someone like Abdoulaye Faye is really good and there is James Tomkins as well who is having a really good season as well, so it is important that there is competition for places here.
“It was really tough against Brighton, we needed to bounce back quickly after losing at Southampton and Kevin Nolan has been telling us from his time at Newcastle in the Championship that sometimes you have to grind out a performance to get the win and I thought we defended well and showed some guts out there.”
They did, but which was sweeter, the All Blacks triumph or West Ham’s victory at Brighton?
“This one I think,” laughed Reid, before having a rethink. “No, perhaps I shouldn’t say that, both were sweet for me.”
At least West Ham didn’t win 8-7 on Monday night!