New Zealand Rugby
McCaw wants All Blacks basics
May 31, 2010
Richie McCaw lead the Crusaders to the Super 14 semi-finals this year © Getty Images
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has told his team-mates to focus on the simple things first or else risk suffering the same sluggish start they made to their 2009 test programme.
After a 26-man squad including four uncapped players was revealed on Sunday, McCaw was keen to highlight the importance of getting the basics right before trying to be world-beaters, starting with New Zealand's opening test against Ireland in New Plymouth on June 12.
McCaw said: "If you try to get everything sorted straight away, that's where it becomes messy and disjointed. I think that was an experience we had last year. Perhaps that first couple of weeks, we had a few injuries like we do this year, but we tried to be at the finish point straight away and perhaps didn't quite get it right, the basic things."
Last June the All Blacks, who were without an injured McCaw, dropped their opening test to France 27-22 in Dunedin. They won second test 14-10 in Wellington, but lost the series, and the Dave Gallaher Cup, on points difference.
The squad named to face Ireland and then Wales in a two-test series features four new caps in Manawatu first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, Auckland second five-eighth Benson Stanley, Wellington loose forward Victor Vito and Hawke's Bay fullback Israel Dagg.
The selectors' option were curtailed by injuries to the likes of winger Sitiveni Sivivatu, midfield backs Ma'a Nonu and Isaia Toeva, locks Ali Williams and Jason Eaton, hooker Andrew Hore, first five-eighth Stephen Donald and utility back Mike Delany. McCaw said the All Blacks wouldn't be using the number of casualties as an excuse if things didn't go to plan.
"This is the team we've got and we have to make sure we make the most of it," he said. "There's still a fair core that have played a bit of rugby. It's going to be up to us to make sure that the expectation of what we have to do is kept up there and there's no excuses."
Meanwhile McCaw had mixed feelings about sitting out the Super 14 final at the weekend, when the Bulls beat the Stormers 25-17 in Soweto to grab their third title in four years. On the one hand, it gave him an extra week to freshen up, especially after the two trips the Crusaders had to make to South Africa in quick succession.
On the other hand, he would have escaped the bad weather in Christchurch the past week if the Crusaders had been able to get past the Bulls in their semi-final.
"It's a silver lining to have a week to refresh a bit, but I wouldn't have minded to have been over there, to be honest."