Thursday, November 20, 2008

McCaw enters familiar forbidden territory
NZPA - November 20, 2008, 3:36 pm
Richie McCaw has been caught on the wrong side of this rugby argument before, so it was hardly surprising when he fended off fresh accusations of cheating as the All Blacks hunkered down in the Welsh capital yesterday.
McCaw's work at the breakdown is under scrutiny again after former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer's claim that referees apply a separate set of laws for the New Zealand captain and openside flanker. Dwyer said referees allowed McCaw to join the breakdown from the side rather than the through `the rear gate'.
And once that law was relaxed McCaw then positioned his body illegally to shut off the ball to the opposition.
"McCaw gets away with this illegality because he has taken over the mantle of the No 1 referee in the world from (former All Blacks captain) Sean Fitzpatrick," Dwyer claimed.
He then demanded South African referee Jonathan Kaplan, who controls the All Blacks test against Wales at Millennium Stadium on Saturday, take a hard line with McCaw.
However, McCaw found an ally in the coach of New Zealand's next opponents, Wales coach Warren Gatland.
"When you get the world's top players, the criticism they keep getting is because they are often so good," he said.
All Blacks head coach Graham Henry took a swipe at Dwyer soon after the team arrived from Ireland yesterday describing the mastermind of Australia's 1991 World Cup triumph as a "puppet".
"I didn't think he would be a puppet for somebody but you get surprises in this game from time to time," he said.
But from McCaw's perspective, the latest criticism barely registered.
"I don't even worry about it any more to be honest," he said."I go into the game believing what I'm doing is the right thing -- you do what you're allowed to do."

McCaw said the breakdown could be deceptively simple to adjudicate.
"It's really simple when you look at the actual laws of it, but because it all happens at once, you only need to be looking at one player and miss the other one -- that's why it's tough to referee it."
He said referees also assessed the tackle situation differently, placing the emphasis on players to adjust accordingly.
"A good player is able to adapt quickly, that's what I always think -- if you can adapt as best you can as quick as you can then you can be effective."

Meanwhile, McCaw was not as enthused about the prospect of two referees eventually controlling a match -- the suggestion of All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen. He advocated the shared role after New Zealand's 22-3 defeat or Ireland in Dublin, saying the modern game was simply too fast for one referee to handle.
"Two referees? I wouldn't know about that," he said, when asked if one would specifically concentrate on him."I'd want to know how it's going to work."

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