Tuesday, February 02, 2010

McCaw: Contests better

02/02/2010 3:29 PM
Lynn McConnell

Ace All Blacks flanker and captain Richie McCaw is excited about changes at the breakdown in the Super 14 this season, but hopes that referees will be consistent in their application of the laws throughout the competition.

McCaw has been a master at adapting to whatever changes have been applied in one of the most troublesome areas of the game, but is looking forward to the new emphasis.

"It's going to reward players who are really accurate. Perhaps when players are almost on their feet, or getting up there's a wee bit of grey area there and some refs would allow you and some wouldn't. They've said they're going to be pretty strict on it so unless someone who is really accurate gets in and contests the ball, the team with it will keep it and be able to play.

"It's all good in theory it will just be interesting to see how it goes," he said.

Technically, it would require the ball carrier to do everything right, and that should allow some good rugby to be played, he said.

"Teams that are really accurate and figure that out to get their breakdown right will be the ones that do pretty well."

The number of turnovers in games could be reduced to only one or two but, as McCaw noted, those could be the one or two that made the difference.
There still needed to be a contest, he said, but it couldn't be with someone who was sort of right.

"They have either got to be right or not," McCaw said.

If early season play was an example it created space that hasn't been around in recent times and McCaw noted the rugby teams that have done best that he had been associated with had been those who had been able to create space. And the Crusaders for 2010 had players who were big and quick and able to exploit that.

"There's times when that's not possible but you have got to have other things up your sleeve. I think if all teams have that sort of attitude and I know all the guys in teams around New Zealand certainly want to play like that.
"If they can do that, it is going to be good," he said.

McCaw said last year had been one that raised a lot of negative aspects of the game but this year if people went along to games with an open mind hopefully the sort of good games seen in the latter part of the year, especially, would be repeated more regularly.

There had been a good feel about the Air New Zealand Cup while the All Blacks win over France had left people with a good feeling going into the new season. For the Crusaders there was the prospect of AMI Stadium being completed and fans being able to get their familiar side of the ground back for watching games and that would add to the appeal.

He also made the point that making the semi-finals was not the big prize. You didn't play all season to end up second or third, you go to win it and that had always been the attitude for the Crusaders.

The vital thing was to start well because sides couldn't afford to be chasing all the way, he said.
It was also important to try and get one of the two top qualifying spots because it was tough having to travel to South Africa for the semi-final.

That was why it was important to nail the close games because they could be significant by the end as last season showed for the Crusaders when they failed to round out close games early in the competition.

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