Australia v New Zealand, Bledisloe Cup, October 20
All Blacks play down record-chasing run
October 19, 2012
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw talks to Kiwi soldier Curtis McGrath who lost his legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan while serving with the Australian Defence Force © Getty Images
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw insists it will be business as usual for his record-chasing side when they tackle Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.
The All Blacks have won their last 16 Tests and one more victory against the Wallabies at the Suncorp Stadium would see them equal the best run of results by a top tier nation held jointly by the New Zealand (1965-69) and South Africa (1997-98).
The world record of 18 straight wins, recognised by the International Rugby Board, is held by Lithuania who won 18 games in a row on their way up the lower European divisions between 2006 and 2010 during which time they never faced a side that had appeared at a World Cup.
The record for the longest unbeaten run is also held by the All Blacks who went 23 Tests from the start of the 1987 Rugby World Cup 1990 unbeaten with their copybook blotted by a 19-all draw with Australia in Brisbane in 1988.
McCaw, who made history himself earlier this month by becoming the first player to notch 100 Test victories as his side completed a Rugby Championship clean sweep with victory over South Africa, admitted that the record had been mentioned within the All Blacks' camp but it would be the team's unstinting quest for excellence that would drive their performance against the Wallabies.
"That [the record] is a byproduct of getting our preparation right this week and then performing right tomorrow night," McCaw told reporters on the eve of the game. "There's a huge desire to play better, and if we do that job right, well then, those things take care of themselves. I'm not saying it's not been thought about a little bit, but the first thing is to back up a good performance from two weeks ago."
The All Blacks face a Wallabies side that has been ravaged by injuries in recent month but still secured runners-up spot in the recent Rugby Championship and while the sizeable Bledisloe Cup silverware is safely in New Zealand's hands for another year, McCaw insists his side will be taking no chances.
"Last thing you want to do is let your standards slip, I think the intensity in training this week has been good and we want to put a good performance out there," he said. "We're prepared for a big test. They've still got the Wallaby jumper on, they're going to be desperate to play well and there'll be intensity as there always is."
McCaw also offered special praise for their predecessors from the 1960s, including the likes of Colin Meads and Brian Lochore, whose mark they hope to match on Saturday night. "Some real legends among them and I've been lucky enough to meet them, they're real good men," said McCaw. "They probably played for similar reasons that we do but they did it over a long time. I think every time you play a Test, you want to live up to the standards that they set over the years."
The All Blacks will wear black armbands for the game as a tribute to head coach Steve Hansen's father who died on Tuesday. Hansen missed the early part of his side's preparations to be at the bedside of his father, a long-serving rugby coach in the Canterbury area, but rejoined his side as they flew to Brisbane on Thursday.
"He would roll over and shoot me if I didn't do the job right," Hansen said. "It is definitely is not a dead rubber. It is a Test match against Australia and along with South Africa, they rank as our main rivals."
"The last time we played them at Suncorp they beat us. They've got a great record at Suncorp so that makes them a dangerous animal."
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