Thursday, October 30, 2008

Captain McCaw rubbishes 'dead rubber' talk

Yahoo!Xtra Sport, Neil Reid
October 30, 2008, 9:00 am

Inspirational All Blacks captain Richie McCaw says Saturday's historic Bledisloe Cup clash in Hong Kong is anything but a 'dead rubber'. The Bledisloe Cup will again be locked up in the NZRU's trophy cabinet for the summer, with the All Blacks holding an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-test series.

As Cup holders, the All Blacks just need to tie the series to retain the silverware. There is no mistake the test is a money-making venture, with both the NZRU and ARU set to earn around $3 million each from the venture.
Both unions have also spoken of the desire to grow the game globally with such off-shore matches.

However, there has been no shortage of critics attacking a Hong Kong-based test being handed Bledisloe Cup status.
Those comments have intensified given the fact the series winner is already confirmed.

However, McCaw said there would be no lacking in motivation from the men in black as they sought to start their season-ending form in winning fashion.
"Although we have already won the Cup, from the players' point of view, we would rather win it 3-1 than 2-2," McCaw told reporters in Hong Kong "We'd feel we really deserve it. It could so easily have been on the line in Hong Kong. But although it is not up for grabs, it is not going to take away any of the intensity. We want to win this one."

The All Black coaching staff confirmed their match 22 for Saturday's trans-Tasman showdown on Tuesday, including the handing of a first test cap to Hosea Gear and Daniel Carter's shift from first-five to second-five.

Sweltering weather conditions were also on hand to welcome both sides, with humidity of between 95-99 percent forecast for Saturday night.

And it seems the Wallabies will not just be battling the heat at Hong Kong Stadium, with the home crowd expected to hugely favour the All Blacks. The Australian Sevens team is no strangers to rugged receptions when they play at the Hong Kong Sevens.

Former Sevens reps who are in the Wallaby squad have spoken of how intimidating that can be.
McCaw said he was in the dark over the frosty times Australian teams had previously endured in Hong Kong.
"I was not aware the Aussies were booed in Hong Kong. I suppose the crowd will get behind us," he said."From what I hear, I believe the crowds will create a super atmosphere. It is bound to be exciting."

The All Blacks travel to the UK on Sunday ahead of their final five matches of the season. They will seek to secure just their third Grand Slam of victories over Ireland, Scotland, Wales on England during the UK-leg of the tour.

"It is going to be a huge tour and we will have to use all 35 players," he said."It starts with Australia, who are always tough and then finishes against England. A visit to Twickenham is always a huge confrontation, but every other team will present its own challenge."

The final test of the tour will also see the All Blacks and England battle off for a new piece of rugby silverware, the Hillary Shield.
The NZRU revealed the new shield last week, to be up for grabs in All Black/England clashes.

McCaw said of Hillary: "He is a legend and he put New Zealand on the map through his expeditions. I met him briefly a few years ago when he came and spoke to the All Blacks. England is always a big match for us and with something like this on the line it will mean a little bit more."

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