England v New Zealand, December 1
McCaw allays Kiwi virus fears
ESPN Staff
November 30, 2012
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, Scotland v New Zealand, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland, November 11, 2012
Richie McCaw will look to guide his team to a win on Saturday and in the process ensure they finish 2012 unbeaten © PA Photos

All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw is adamant the virus that has swept through the team will have no bearing on their performance against England come Saturday.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen revealed earlier this week that his team was struggling with a virus. It first struck in the build-up to Saturday's 33-10 victory over Wales, but was at its worst during Wednesday's down day. Only two members of the 32-man squad escaped the virus, but McCaw denied it would affect the All Blacks in tomorrow's clash with England at Twickenham.

"The guys are coming right now. By yesterday most of us were feeling pretty good, bar a couple," McCaw said. "I had a bit of it myself but I feel pretty good today. It knocked the stuffing out of a few of the guys.

"For a day or so the boys didn't have a lot to eat and were a little ginger yesterday. From what I've seen and from myself, we're eating normally and energy levels are back up. Hopefully it won't take too much out of us.

"I know running round yesterday wasn't too bad considering and I feel a heap better today. It shouldn't affect us at all tomorrow."

The odds are heavily stacked against Stuart Lancaster's men with England having lost their last two Tests at Twickenham while the All Blacks go into the match on the back of a 20-match unbeaten run. And Kiwi coach Steve Hansen believes England's tendency to stick with the tried and tested in the past, rather than blooding new faces is symptomatic of their standing.

"England will be desperate. Lancaster is doing a pretty good job and has a fair idea of what he wants, but it will take him time," Hansen said. "He's got a definite style of game he wants to play and he's introducing the athletes to do that.

"He's had to bring in a lot of young guys because they probably hung onto guys too long in the past. But they will be physical and the back three is as good a back three as there is in world rugby. The midfield are both big, strong men.

"Owen Farrell has been nominated for IRB player of the year so he must be a handy player and the halfback will tap and on at any opportunity. The backs are going to support their forwards and the mindset is to play the game.

"Our focus is to go out and get a performance we know we are capable of. If we go out and play badly we will be hacked off. If we go out and play well and get beaten then you accept it."

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