New Zealand Rugby
Renergised McCaw hungry as ever
ESPN Staff
July 24, 2013
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, Scotland v New Zealand, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland, November 11, 2012
Richie McCaw is set for a return to All Blacks colours next month © PA Photos

A revitalised Richie McCaw insists that his eight-month sabbatical has left him as hungry as ever to play the game.

McCaw opted to take a step back from the sport at the end of last year in order to re-charge his batteries and ensure he would be physically ready for New Zealand's defence of the Rugby World Cup crown in 2015. Having sat out the majority of the Super Rugby campaign and the All Blacks' series victory over France, he returned to the Crusaders' ranks for their impressive play-off victory over the Reds.

"I was pretty nervous," the flanker told following his cameo off the bench, "and there was just an excitement about getting out on the field. That's the way rugby should be."

The 32-year-old McCaw looks unlikely to displace Matt Todd in the Crusaders' starting line-up for their semi-final showdown with New Zealand rivals the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday but it will do little to diminish his hunger to excel. "I don't think it had disappeared," he said if his hunger to play, "but certainly today reminded me why I do it and when you see the boys running round like that ... you don't get to play this game forever, and you want to make the most of every time you get out there. That becomes pretty evident when you sit and watch for a while."

He is now hoping his team-mates have a similar level of desire as they contemplate the Crusaders' 12th consecutive semi-final appearance, and a 15th in 18 years of the competition, against the side that topped the table at the end of the regular season and who they lost to at the same venue in May. "A lot of the boys have been in this situation the last couple of years and come up short and it would be pretty disappointing to get this far again and not put our best performance out there.

"There will be four teams now all thinking that same thing, and it comes down to the guys who can put it out there. We've got to be hungry and if we can prepare like we did this week and put a performance out there it's going take a good team to match that."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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