England v New Zealand
World Cup not everything for McCaw
November 27, 2008
Richie McCaw collects more silverware after New Zealand's win over Wales last weekend, but the World Cup remains elusive © Getty Images
New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw insists his side have a lot to be proud of despite their high-profile Rugby World Cup failures.
It is 21 years since New Zealand hosted and won the inaugural competition and their ongoing failure to reclaim the sport's greatest prize is a source of national torment. Yet outside the World Cup the All Blacks have dominated Test rugby and have fought back admirably to the top of the world rankings since their quarter-final exit at the hands of France in Cardiff.
After claiming the Tri-Nations crown for the fourth consecutive year, the All Blacks are on the verge of completing their third successful grand slam tour if they topple England on Saturday.
"You have to be able to gain lasting fulfilment without winning the World Cup," he said. "It's not easy when you have disappointments but hopefully we can put them into context. We can be proud of what we've accomplished this year. It would be awful to have finished your career having achieved some of the things we have, even up to now, and not feel like you've done good."
England enter this weekend's clash at a low-ebb following a record 42-6 defeat at the hands of South Africa last weekend but McCaw still expects a fierce challenge from Martin Johnson's side.
"They'll be hurting and will want to come out and get it right and show they're a good team," he said. "We've been in a similar situation ourselves this year. When you get a chance to put it right, and luckily they have a chance seven days later, that's what you have to do. We're expecting them to throw everything into it and they will de desperate. We have to match that intensity or else it will be a long day."
Looking ahead to the Twickenham showdown, McCaw was surprised by England's decision to drop flanker Tom Rees for the clash in favour of Michael Lipman. "I'm a little bit surprised, he's a damn good player," said the 27-year-old. "All of England's loose forwards played well when they toured in June. It was a physical confrontation with them. I'm sure England have their reasons why they dropped him but the guy who has replaced him must be raring to go."
McCaw has once again been forced to defend his style following renewed claims that his game is based around breaking the rules, with respected former Australia coach Bob Dwyer claiming he is a serial offender at the breakdown. But the Crusaders back row, who has won 32 of his 69 caps as captain, denied there is 'one law for McCaw' and another for his opponents. "I don't listen to that stuff because it's been said so many times. I don't know why it comes about," he said. "Good number sevens can be bloody annoying and if I'm doing that then I'm not doing a bad job."