Flanker McCaw was influential throughout, starting in the opening minute when he crumpled Irish second five-eighth and sole tryscorer Paddy Wallace in a thunderous tackle.
Forward coach Steve Hansen agreed McCaw's influence was a massive one, mirroring his form when he led the Crusaders imperiously through the Super 14 playoffs.
"The last three weeks have been pretty big games. The Crusaders had gone through a bit of a flat patch and he knew he had to stand up as a leader in that side," Hansen said.
"It's been a long time between the World Cup and the game last night and it's hurt a lot of people and he was the captain and was probably hurting more than anybody."
As for McCaw, what a performance!
Right from the moment he led the team out, I could see Richie's hunger. This was an inspired leader's performance, underlining once and for all that we have the best possible captain already at our helm.
So they looked to Dan Carter to produce his Crusaders form, and to McCaw and Ali Williams in the engine room. McCaw and Williams answered the call best, with McCaw almost preternatural in his ability to hit a maul, make ground running with the ball and then back up at the next breakdown, all within a stunningly short time frame.
As usual, this skipper was at the heart of the All Blacks' effort up front. McCaw led the tackle count and was also a busy ball carrier.
He earned rich praise from his masters.
"Richie is Richie," said coach Graham Henry. "I thought he was the outstanding player on the field."
Forwards coach Steve Hansen detected a special drive from McCaw for this match.
"Richie is like everybody else. He's copped a wee bit of flak in the media. The last time he played for the All Blacks he got beaten and the All Blacks don't like getting beaten so he's obviously come out and wanted a big performance and he's had one," said Hansen.