McCaw hoping to end on a high
December 2, 2009
Richie McCaw is looking forward to a rest © Getty Images
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has been called back in to the fray for one last time in 2009 and will lead his side as they take on the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.
The game will cap the end of a long season for the tourists and McCaw will take an extended break from the game, sitting out the opening rounds of the Crusaders' Super 14 campaign. He admitted that he had been preparing to take the field on Saturday and hopes that his second-string team can produced the same thrills as in last weekend's stunning victory over France in Marseille.
"I had a fair idea for a while I'd be playing," he said. "We were always going to give other guys a crack, but being captain of the team I'm more than happy to help out.
"All the guys had a lot of fun last week and you just can't carry on like last week, you've got to get in the game, but if it was as much fun as that it'd be well worth it."
After a night of celebrations in Marseille, McCaw and several teammates visited the adidas factory in Germany then had two quiet days before their first training at a pristine Harrow School.
While his early-season injury meant McCaw played 10 of the All Blacks' 14 tests this year, the mental strain of skippering the side and the rigours of the six weeks on their unbeaten tour was starting to show.
"I'm ready for a break to be honest," he said. "Body-wise I'm really good. It's more I've just had enough of rugby for another year, not to much the games but the training and stuff that goes with it. That's good about this week; it's not the intensity of a Test match so it makes it a little bit easier to get ready, a bit more relaxed."
McCaw knows that he will have to be on his toes on Saturday against a formidable Barbarians back-row including Wallabies Rocky Elsom and George Smith and Springbok powerhouse Schalk Burger. He played for the Barbarians against the Wallabies at Wembley a year ago as they gave the tourists a fright before losing 18-11.
"Last year's game was one of the most physical I played on the tour so it's not easy either," he said. "The Barbarians boys got stuck into the Wallabies early on. It was close."
"I had a perfect record against England as did a few other Welshmen. England always seemed to bring the best out of us." John Taylor on the age-old rivalry
Are the margins between the teams in the Six Nations getting smaller year-on-year? Huw Richards gives some answers
Martin Gillingham looks at the state of play in the Top 14 and gives his take on the club versus country battle harming the prospects of the French side
Manu Tuilagi, Cockerill's psychological warfare and Saracens' brute strength - it is the Monday Maul