Sportal.co.nz - (15/09/2010)
That remains the All Blacks' Achilles heel so far as South African commentator Mark Keohane is concerned.After praising the All Blacks for the manner of their Investec Tri Nations win, Keohane asked in Business Day whether the side could beat Australia and South Africa without McCaw?
"These All Blacks this season have been capable of winning pretty, winning ugly and winning without Dan Carter. It has been impressive indeed, but the only question I would continue to ask – and it gives every major challenger hope – is if they can win against Australia and SA without McCaw, who in addition to being the best oper-sider to have played the game has matured into a quality international captain," he wrote.
New Zealand's come-from-behind wins against the Springboks in Soweto and Australia in Sydney defined their season and McCaw had been the inspiration behind the wins.
"That will make New Zealanders smile, but it should also trouble them that one man can mean so much to one team's success," he said.
New Zealand, Keohane claimed, had always been vulnerable because in a close scrap they came up short because they didn't know how to slug it out in a tight contest. This was because so much came so easy to them as teams could not handle the pace of their game or the physicality of their players.
"The Boks and Australia have always been the exceptions. The Boks historically have had the physicality to, at worst, match the All Blacks, and the Wallabies have always shown pace to be integral to their game. This year the All Blacks played with greater physicality than the Boks and with more pace than the Wallabies," he said.
Keohane noted that the All Blacks' management had shown that performance could be turned around within 12 months and it was unlikely that their play would drop-off, before next year's World Cup, from the peak he expected the side to reach on its end-of-year tour to Britain.He also noted that the strength of the All Blacks' performances was due to the construction of a champion team which wasn't rotated every second week.
"They play with the confidence of blokes who trust each other because they are used to playing together. It is what made the 2007 Boks so successful. The difference between the World Cup holders and the pretenders to the crown is that the latter are building a team, whereas the Boks are relying on a team already built but showing signs of decay," he said.