Rugby World Cup update: 19th Oct 2007
Fri, 19 Oct 2007 11:45p.m.
Dobbo, Byron Kelleher and Frank Bunce talk about Sunday's upcoming final.
Rugby: McCaw was carrying an injury
5:00AM Sunday October 21, 2007
All Black halfback Byron Kelleher has revealed that captain Richie McCaw took the field against France in the ill-fated World Cup quarter-final carrying a calf injury and after a viral infection.
The news of McCaw's injury helps to explain a strangely muted game from the All Black skipper. It is likely to ramp up criticism of the Graham Henry-led campaign which placed so much store on rotation and reconditioning of players to make sure they were fresh and peaking at the right time to win the Cup.
The All Blacks camp has not previously revealed that McCaw played carrying and injury and Kelleher also said that he was one of a number of players who had not agreed with the rotation policy but who had curbed their opinions to help the team build towards its common goal.
Speaking on TV3's late night World Cup Update, Kelleher also said that, at the time the All Blacks most needed a drop goal to win the match, the only two players who had practised for such a situation - Daniel Carter and himself - were both on the sidelines and he agreed with the contention that both Doug Howlett and Aaron Mauger should have played.
Kelleher, who is staying in France to play club rugby there, said of McCaw: "He had a bit of a viral infection in the week before and his immune system was a bit drained.
He also has a calf injury. Richie McCaw is such a hard man. Due credit to him, he does such a fantastic job for the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby. But he was carrying an injury and that can hinder momentum and performance in a game as well."
Asked if he felt Howlett and Mauger should have been playing as the All Blacks seemed to lack experience in the last 20 minutes, Kelleher said: "That's dead right. Those guys were just gutted at not playing and not even being in the 22.
"You can't replace experience. No matter how much flair and talent might be coming through from youth, experience is what it is all about. England has been showing us that. They have a lot of players in there who know how to win games and that is unfortunately in the nature of this competition."
On rotation, Kelleher said he had never enjoyed being a senior player but still having to bide his time on the bench because of rotation.
"Some of the players didn't really want to believe in it [rotation] but we were all as one in this World Cup and we all buy into the concept together and that was the coach's strategy for this World Cup.
"We do make comments in the All Blacks and sometimes we agree to disagree at times so we are all heading in the same direction and all on the same wavelength to achieve the ultimate goal."
Asked about the desperate All Black struggle to score the winning points against France, Kelleher - who had been subbed by this time - said: "We did a lot of pick-and-go towards the sidelines when we should have been heading towards the middle of the field, towards the goalposts and then set ourselves and have a shot. We have some great kickers in our team and obviously the communication just wasn't there.
"The only two who had practiced [drop goals] were Dan and myself and we were sitting on the bench. [Carter was injured] and no finger pointing and not blaming the other players, but it was definitely something we should have worked towards."
again : thank you very much to Izzy for the links :)