McCaw not a numbers man
All Black captain Richie McCaw is not concerned about the number on his back, but rather the quality of the performance.
All Black captain Richie McCaw is not concerned about the number on his back, but rather the quality of the performance he and his team will produce.
When New Zealand take on Japan in a one-off Test at Tokyo's Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium on Saturday it will one of the rare occasions McCaw has not played at openside flank for the All Blacks.
Coach Steve Hansen is keen to give the increasingly impressive Sam Cane more game time at No.7, so his skipper will pack down at the back of the scrum with Steven Luatua on the blindside.
"I've been covering there pretty much the whole season," McCaw said.
"Each week I've been thinking about what I'd do if I have to be there. It's a little bit different starting there but I'm quite excited by it.
"It doesn't change the game a whole lot with what you do. You've still got to get the skills right of tackling and catching."
McCaw, who was on sabbatical for the French series and has missed Tests against South Africa, Argentina and Australia with knee and calf injuries, was confident the new-look loose forward combination would be up to the challenge posed by Japan.
"The key to a loose forward trio is working and complementing each other and not getting in each other's way," McCaw explained.
McCaw, who will be playing Japan for the first time, said the All Blacks were expecting a high-tempo game from a Japanese side buoyed by their recent victory against Wales.
"I'm sure they would have gained a lot confidence out of their two Tests they played against Wales. They had a win and all of sudden you start believing in what you can do," the 120-Test veteran said.
"You look across their players: they've certainly got some ability to play. They like to play fast sort of rugby. If we get into a high-speed game that you lose control of, it will be a tough day out."
McCaw called on the All Blacks to marry excitement with execution in Saturday's historic Test.
The All Blacks captain is well aware of the excitement levels in his squad, with four debutants in the 23 and himself and Dan Carter both returning from injury lay-offs, but he's desperate for standards to remain as high as they've been thorough this perfect test year so far.
Speaking after Friday's captain's run McCaw made it clear that it was important for the All Blacks to keep their discipline in what is sure to be a high-octane occasion.
"When you've got four guys potentially playing their first game and a few who haven't had a crack for a while, myself included, there's some good excitement which is what you want.
"We've had a good week's preparation, now it's about putting in a performance out there."
McCaw's clearly feeling chipper about being back on the park after an injury ravaged season that's seen him play just four tests since returning from his sabbatical.
As he spoke to a large media group at the ground, the word "excited" kept popping up. But he also called for that energy to be channeled in the right areas by a group with a makeshift feel about it.
"We can't afford, just because we've got a few changes, to let our standards drop. It's pretty key we have a performance that's as good as, if not better, than where we've been.
"It's a different challenge playing the Japanese. I'm sure the pace of the game will be up but we've got to be careful we don't get frantic with it."
It's also important he and Dan Carter get a solid hitout under their belts ahead of France next weekend in Paris.
"We're just keen to get some footy under the belt, then I guess we've got another three weeks to look forward to."
Source: NZ Newswire