New Zealand v France, Rugby World Cup, October 23, 2011
McCaw calls on lessons learned
October 22, 2011
Richie McCaw will lead the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup Final © Getty Images
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw is set for the biggest game of his storied career and he is determined to use all his experience in Sunday's Rugby World Cup Final against France.
The 30-year-old, capped 102 times, was at the helm four years ago when New Zealand crashed out to Les Bleus at the quarter-final stage and he believes that lessons learned from that disappointment will be valuable at Eden Park this weekend.
The hosts will have massive support in Auckland, where record crowds are expected at the city's waterfront, but as ever expectation weighs heavy on their shoulders as they take aim at a first world title since 1987.
"A lot of guys have been through one if not two experiences that haven't been too flash and you'd like to think that just hardens the resolve and the desire," he said. "From my point of view, what happened back in 2003, I never understood what it took to win a World Cup. Perhaps I didn't fully understand again in '07.
"But with those experiences you realise that to win it you've got to be the best team in the tournament regardless of what's happened beforehand and you've got to produce the goods when it counts. I think a lot of the guys that have been around a while understand that. There's absolutely no guarantees."
The All Blacks' coaching panel has named an unchanged starting XV for the tournament finale and McCaw has demanded that his charges leave everything out on the field.
"People say who deserves what but at the end of the day in a Final it is not about who deserves what. It is about who goes and plays the best rugby on that stage in this game," he said. "If there's a game you want to pick to be involved through your career it would be a World Cup Final and we've got that opportunity tomorrow."
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