McCaw promises no let-up
June 25, 2010
New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw has promised another hostile welcome for Wales on Saturday © Getty Images
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has promised Wales another tough shift on Saturday despite a number of changes from last weekend's 42-9 Carisbrook cruise.
Victory in the second Test in Hamilton will take McCaw past Sean Fitzpatrick's record of most wins as All Black skipper and he was keen to stress that a dip in intensity was not acceptable in the build-up to the Tri-Nations.
Veteran fullback Mils Muliaina and lock Tom Donnelly are high-profile returns to the starting XV while winger Zac Guildford, centre Richard Kahui and prop Neemia Tialata all have a chance to impress the selectors.
"We don't want to drop our standards just because there are changes," McCaw said. "We've got to have a performance which is the same, if not better. That's the way we'll judge it. They're going to be a team that's hurting so they'll come out and climb in."
Head coach Graham Henry was also on top of his charges, demanding that they secure greater territory than in the first Test and also that their scrummage stands up to further examination.
"We tried to play too much rugby in the middle of the field, around halfway," Henry said. "We probably need to play for more territory early, then we can get more set piece and we can build a game.
"At scrum time we've got two experienced props playing [Neemia Tialata and Tony Woodcock] and they're both very good scrummagers and you hope that will roll into the game. We should be stronger in that department."
Guildford, who made his debut against Wales at Cardiff last November, was anxious to prove himself ahead of the Tri-Nations, particularly after New Zealand Maori winger Hosea Gear's stunning hat-trick of tries against England on Wednesday.
"The boys are having fun running the ball back and now it's my turn to have a bit of fun," he said. "It's been frustrating watching, I just hope I can make the most of the opportunity ... hopefully I can get three tries."
Wales took on a beleaguered look in the closing stages in Dunedin and their coach, Hamilton native Warren Gatland, knows the challenges facing his side this time around. With scores to settle from last weekend, and ghosts to lay to rest for some players following the 2005 British & Irish Lions tour, the former Waikato hooker is expecting a response.
"One or two have been here with the Lions [in 2005] and that wasn't a great experience for them in terms of performance and results," he said. "Last week there was probably a bit of apprehension - 'what are we up against?
"We definitely know what we're up against so there's no surprises about the task ahead of us. The boys were a bit quieter earlier in the week. Some of the players felt personally they weren't quite at their best and want to rectify it."
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.