McCaw demands Grand Slam focus
October 26, 2010
Richie McCaw (R) and the All Blacks forwards train in Hong Kong © Getty Images
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw says the prospect of a Grand Slam will stop the All Blacks from getting distracted by their upcoming home World Cup on their northern hemisphere tour.
The All Blacks could be forgiven for having one eye on the 2011 World Cup, which they are clear favourites to win for the first time in 24 years on home soil, given rugby's showpiece is now less than a year away. But McCaw insists his men will have their minds on the job as they tour Britain and Ireland in November.
The All Blacks underlined their status as the world's number one side with an unbeaten success in the Tri Nations earlier this year, with their impressive multi-phase game proving too much to handle for traditional rivals Australia and South Africa.
Graham Henry's men are currently in Hong Kong preparing to take on the Wallabies on Saturday, from there they will head to Britain and Ireland to face England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales as they seek a third clean sweep of the home nations in the last six seasons.
The men in black have not lost to England since 2003, Wales have to go back 57 years for their last success and Ireland and Scotland have yet to record victories against the Kiwis.
But Canterbury openside flanker McCaw, the world's leading exponent at the breakdown, is taking nothing for granted and does not believe his side can afford to look too far ahead.
"You talk about Grand Slams and it's something you want to be a part of," McCaw said. "They are tough because you want to be right every week. To go home having beaten all four teams is very satisfying. World Cups are important but in the All Blacks it is not acceptable to turn up and not perform.
"Every team can get beaten and if you don't get things dead right you will be. As soon as you start thinking you're better than anyone else just because you've won a few games, that's when you come unstuck."
The All Blacks have proven the most adept at adjusting to the new law interpretations at the breakdown, introduced earlier this year in an effort to afford attacking sides more leeway at ruck time, with their accuracy in attack proving to be breathtaking on occasions. And McCaw is a fan of the tinkering with the rules, although he admitted he had some reservations initially.
"They are not new laws, it's an interpretation," he said. "In the Super 14 it was at the other end of the spectrum and it was frustrating but we are now seeing a lot of things that you want to see happening. You get rewards for keeping hold of and using the ball, if you defend well you also get the chance to contest the breakdown and it makes it a better game for people to watch and to play."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
ESPN looks at the forthcoming season of the Guinness PRO12 and assesses how each of the 12 teams will do
"Like the Treaty of Versailles, despite all the promises, the new Participation Agreement is certainly not the final solution." John Taylor writes
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch