Ireland v New Zealand, Aviva Stadium, November 20
McCaw rolls with the punches
November 18, 2010
McCaw is set to win a record 93rd Test cap for the All Blacks this weekend © Getty Images
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw insists he does not hold any grudges against Ireland's Jamie Heaslip ahead of their latest showdown in Dublin on Saturday.
Heaslip brazenly kneed the All Blacks captain in the back during New Zealand's 66-28 thrashing of their Irish rivals in New Plymouth five months ago - an offence that saw the Irish No.8 red-carded and subsequently banned for five weeks. But McCaw barely recalls the incident ahead of Saturday's re-match at Lansdowne Road.
"Those things sometimes happen on the field so you just move on," said McCaw, who is poised to set a new record of All Black test caps of 93 against Ireland, along with fullback Mils Muliaina. "I don't get carried away and I definitely don't carry grudges. I can put that stuff away and get on with the game."
The world's leading openside flanker and irritant at a breakdown, McCaw could not remember Heaslip's indiscretion, just the repercussions. "I haven't seen the tape, but he probably wishes he didn't do it, he ended up off the field."
McCaw, 29, made his Test debut at Lansdowne Rd during the 2001 end of year tour - the All Blacks won 40-29 -- and was looking forward to playing at the remodelled home of Irish rugby. "The Irish game will be the first time we have played at the new stadium, so that will be special," he said. "I have a special memory of Lansdowne Road, nine years ago playing there. It's nice to come back [92 Tests] later and still be trucking in the team, that's the nice part."
In many ways his nine years at the pinnacle of his profession had flashed by in a blur, hence McCaw's determination to enjoy what might be his last November up north. "As you get close to the end you want to make sure you really enjoy the moments," he said. "Just being on tour with the All Blacks, the places you get to go to hanging out with the team. One day that won't be there. I remember Robbie (Deans) always said you're time playing is so short. Looking back, the nine years have flown by."
History suggests the All Blacks will prolong their 105-year unbeaten record against the Irish, not that McCaw was taking victory for granted. "The last time we played in June we only had the better of things in the first half [after Heaslip was sent off]. They played most of the rugby in the second half and scored some [four] good tries. So we know that if we don't turn up with the right attitude, we will have a tough day. I've never had an easy win in Dublin."
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