October 3, 2007 - 9:58AM
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw insists New Zealand will not make the same mistakes they made in 1999 when they resume their rivalry with France in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
New Zealand squandered a half-time lead to lose an epic semi-final to the French at Twickenham eight years ago.
In 2003, their World Cup dreams were shattered again at the semi-final stage, this time at the hands of Australia but McCaw and his men are on full alert for any potential muggers this time round.
"Disappointment," is how McCaw summed up the 1999 defeat.
"All New Zealand took it hard. They love the All Blacks and want them to do well.
"We have been through a lot since 1999 and 2003. The guys who went through it know what's required. But we are a different team to '03 and to '99. We are better and will get better for Saturday and have to do what it takes."
As captain, McCaw admitted he has a crucial role to play at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday as New Zealand attempt to erase those past disappointments and take another step closer to a second world title.
"It's important to be the leader of the team and it's an honour because there are a lot of guys on the team who could do this job," said McCaw who will win his 59th cap this weekend.
"But just being an All Black is an honour. You don't see yourself as different to anyone else."
McCaw believes experience will also see them through against France.
"(In 1999 and 2003) there were a lot of guys that were new to the team and they didn't offer as much in terms of leadership. Now there are lots of guys that have been around for a long time and they put their hands up to say what can be done."
Against France, the All Blacks will concentrate on thwarting their rivals' preference for the running game.
"When you play against them you don't allow them to use the ball, you stop them being able to chuck the ball around. You can't allow the space for them to do that," he said.