By MARC HINTON in Cardiff - Stuff.co.nz
Richie McCaw's been around too long to draw any dramatic conclusions from the chat coming out of the Welsh rugby camp this week.
The All Blacks skipper knows full well that it's the walk, not the talk, that matters early Sunday (NZ time) when Wales once again look for that all-elusive victory over New Zealand.
That's why McCaw has been all but oblivious to talk from the Welsh that the All Blacks might be vulnerable this year; and that a first win over the New Zealanders since 1953 could be just around the corner.
"To be honest I don't read too much into it at all," said McCaw who will play his 77th test, and 41st as captain, this weekend. "The guys who were here last year realise it was a tough test match - probably the toughest on the tour. And we realise it's going to be the same on Saturday.
"What you've said before means absolutely nothing once you get on the field. We've just got to make sure we go through our preparation the best we can to front on Saturday."
Besides, McCaw has heard it all before.
"Every year it seems to be something round the traps... we don't get too carried away with it."
But McCaw acknowledged that the confidence that seems to be emanating from the Welsh makes them a dangerous opponent.
"There's no doubt about that. What they believe or what they don't, we just know from the experience of last year they've got good players. That's what I base it on.
"We realise we're in for a tough match. If anything it might add a bit of spice for some of us... you hear the odd thing... but we'd be idiots if we thought it was going to be easy.
"They came out [last year] with a lot of passion and hoed into things, and I can't see that being too different."
McCaw has also been given a side to lead by his coaches containing six changes (two forced, four by choice), and it remains to be seen whether that's a tactical mistake or not.
But the skip has no problems with some tweaking on the personnel front.
"The guys who are going to get their chance are excited about it. You look at a guy like Zac Guildford and he certainly deserves a go, no doubt about that. And a guy like Jason Eaton has shown he's got ability, he's just got to make sure he puts it out on the field. He's probably in the best shape I've seen him for a while so let's hope he takes that chance."
McCaw is also relaxed about the prospects of influential playmaker Dan Carter making the start line.
"From what I hear hopefully he'll be OK. But you can't worry about it -- if you lose one guy and think it's doom and gloom, that's not a very good way to operate.
"If he's not [all right] we've just got to get on with it. I presume Stephen Donald would then play, and he's played a few tests this year."
McCaw, meanwhile, said he was looking forward to the test for quite personal reasons.
"It's one of my favourite, if not my favourite, stadiums. I really enjoy playing there. The atmosphere is pretty awesome, and unfortunately you get a better atmosphere when the score's close. So it's nice to quieten things down."