Sunday, August 08, 2010

Captain McCaw the main man
Friday Aug 6, 2010
By Inga Tuigamala

It's been a long time since we have seen an All Black side playing with such confidence and purpose.

I would have trouble picking out any weaknesses or finding someone who isn't coming up to the mark.

But it's an easier job to single out the player who is driving this along.

So much of what is happening stems from Richie McCaw.

How do you compare players past and present? I'm not sure there is a definitive way of doing this.

To be rated among the greats you have to perform consistently over a long period. McCaw has achieved that.

We have been able to rank McCaw alongside some of the brilliant players of the past such as Buck Shelford and Michael Jones, and he might now even be surpassing old legends. McCaw is right up there with Colin Meads.

There is a buzz and self-belief about this team. They are becoming masters of doing the right thing at the right time. And so much of this stems from the captain - he's from another planet.

The old hands are coming up trumps, players such as Mils Muliaina and Keven Mealamu. And this is helping the youngsters to flourish.

Special mention must be made of Cory Jane, who has shown that you can still play at this level even if you aren't the biggest of blokes.

He is starting to remind me of another great player, Jeff Wilson. He is so immaculate with a few brilliant touches thrown in.

Graham Henry and co are doing a superb job. I must eat a few words here.

When the All Black pack was not going well - with particular problems at set pieces - I questioned the ability of Steve Hansen.

Hansen contended that these things take time, while many of us demanded that the time was now. But his pack is now firing on all cylinders.

The key to tomorrow's test will be the battle up front and I don't think the Australian tight five has a hope of competing with their All Black counterparts.

Australia need to win this game to keep their Tri-Nations hopes alive but the All Blacks will be too strong again.

We have the power, but we are also streets ahead of any other nation when it comes to skill in the whole team.

One area Australia must work on is composure - if the Wallabies improve their discipline they will not put themselves under more pressure with penalties or yellow cards.

Australia were very confident before the last test but they bombed in Melbourne. It will be interesting to see how they respond in Christchurch.

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