Sportal.co.nz - 21/11/2008
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has delivered an emphatic message to the critics who question his style of play. Bob Dwyer, Australia's 1991 World Cup-winning coach, recently weighed into McCaw with some outspoken comments published in the New Zealand media. Dwyer said McCaw effectively refereed Test matches he played in, and there appeared to be one law for New Zealand's openside flanker and one for every other player. But McCaw, who will lead the All Blacks into battle against Wales on Saturday, said:
"I don't even worry about it any more. I go into games believing I am doing what is the right thing. You do what you are allowed to. The breakdown is really simple when you look at the laws. But because it happens all at once, the referee is only able to look at one guy - he can't see everything. That is why I don't envy referees. They have got the power there, and you have got to adapt to how they are refereeing it quickly. If you do the best you can, you can be effective. The ruck is quite simple if you get it right. If you get across the advantage line, it's simple to see. When it becomes more of a wrestle, it turns into a bit of a lottery. You help yourself out by going forward."
McCaw will skipper New Zealand for a third time against Wales this weekend, with the All Blacks targeting their 20th successive victory since losing 13-8 in Cardiff 55 years ago. After disposing of Scotland and Ireland without conceding a try, McCaw and company are clear favourites to successfully complete the third stage of a potential grand slam tour. But the skipper believes reigning Six Nations champions Wales possesses the potential to make life difficult, and he knows the back-row contest will be a tough one.
McCaw added: "I have got a lot of respect for the Wales back row, especially Martyn Williams. He has been around a long time. The fella at No.8 [Andy Powell] is a big man, pretty good with ball in hand. As is the case with all good sides, if their front five functions, they have got the ability to run amok. Winning the Six Nations isn't easy. Wales have always had the ability. They can counter-attack pretty well, if you give them space, and score tries. I think they have shown that."
New Zealand's preparations, meanwhile, are not proving trouble-free, with hooker Corey Flynn ruled out of the Wales clash and next week's Twickenham showdown with England. Flynn suffered a fractured left arm during the All Blacks' 18-16 victory over Munster in Limerick on Tuesday night, and he will be replaced on the bench against Wales by Hikawera Elliott. All Blacks doctor Deb Robinson said: "Corey complained of soreness yesterday, and an X-ray in Cardiff yesterday evening confirmed that he has suffered a fracture to his left forearm."
Elsewhere, Tony Woodcock will start at loosehead prop against Wales after avoiding a ban following his disciplinary hearing in Dublin last night. Woodcock was cited for striking an opponent with his hand during New Zealand's 22-3 win against Ireland last weekend.He admitted committing an act of foul play, but International Rugby Board judicial officer Professor Lorne Crerar considered it did not warrant a red card and therefore no further sanction was appropriate.