Friday, September 12, 2008

All Blacks stay grounded till kick-off

Yahoo!Xtra Sport
Neil Reid in Brisbane
September 12, 2008, 6:09 pm

Richie McCaw says the All Blacks have kept their emotions in check this week to ensure they don't peak ahead of the Tri Nations decider in Brisbane.

The clash at Suncorp Stadium is the culmination of a three-month campaign for both the All Blacks and Wallabies.
And for the second successive season, the result of an All Black/Wallaby clash will decide who claims the Tri Nations silverware.

McCaw said there was no lack of desire or hunger in the squad.
But he said just as important was his belief that that was being channeled in the right direction, and even controlled, to ensure the All Blacks didn't play the game out in their heads well before kick-off.

"There is definitely some excitement there. But you are right, you can't play the game before you get on the track on Saturday night," McCaw said."That is something we have stressed. Guys have to individually keep an eye on that. The way the week has gone, we have built really well. But never know what is going to happen, but you just hope that guys turn up and do their bit to make sure we get a good performance."

Head coach Graham Henry added: "They had to stay alive for the last three games.
"If we had lost against Australia in Auckland or South Africa in Cape Town we were history. So the boys have gone through that experience for the last two test matches which have been big tests and they haven't played the game prior to the game. They have had that experience and hopefully they will go through the same process for this test match. I am thinking they have experienced enough and well lead enough to keep their feet on the floor and make sure we build for the right time."

The decider is the first time the Wallabies will be able to regain some pride as a team after last month's record loss inflicted on them by the Springboks.
McCaw said it was a result which would add extra sting to the Wallabies.
He said it would also have made the job of getting the Wallabies 'up' mentally "easier" for Robbie Deans.
Despite the All Blacks being scheduled for a season-ending Grand Slam tour, Saturday's Suncorp Stadium decider has been billed as the side's biggest test of the season.
McCaw said when considering what was up for grabs, it was a test that epitomised why he played test rugby.

"That is why we play the game," he said."That is why we play the five previous tests, to have a crack at that. That is what motivates all of the guys, to perform well and then you get something at the end of it. Our hunger has to be there as well. This series has shown when it is not at the peak, then you will come second. And the guys realise that. From our point of view, from within the group the desire to go out and perform and play well in the All Black team is high. And I am sure the Wallabies are the same."

The make-up of the playing staffs of both sides is massively different from those involved in the 2007 Tri Nations finale at Eden Park. Half of the current All Black squad was not required for last year's World Cup. Deans too has brought in a rash of new faces due to overseas defections, retirements and a change of direction.

"They are always a threat," McCaw said of the new-look Wallabies. "They still have some quality players right through the team, a fair few players have been around for a while. Whether it is more or less than last year, it means whoever turns out there we are going to have to perform to our very best. The Wallabies always are a threat. And the first game we played this year showed when you get it wrong you come second pretty easily."

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