Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Pain spurred All Blacks to greater heights
James Mortimer - (1/09/2010)
Captain Richie McCaw has said that it was the hurt that came with conceding the Investec Tri Nations title and losing 3-0 to South Africa last year that gave the All Blacks the impetus that has spurred them on to win back the title

A year after the All Blacks lost their third straight match to the Springboks in Hamilton (their last test defeat), Richie McCaw and his men have made an emphatic statement, embarking on a 14 test match winning streak, and cementing their position as the International Rugby Board’s number one ranked side.

A come from behind 29-22 victory in Soweto saw them claim the title with a game to spare, and McCaw said it was no secret that last year had caused the team to do a lot of soul searching.

"A lot of it's come from a fair bit of disappointment last year, we took a good look at ourselves after the Tri-Nations," he said. "We haven't changed a whole lot, just the way we implement things. It's hard work that's got us to where most of the guys are playing pretty good rugby. There's not too much between the three teams at the moment in the Tri-Nations but we've been able to get some confidence with how we're playing. "

McCaw, who this year has passed Sean Fitzpatrick with the most test wins as an All Blacks captain, said that the key difference in 2010 was the side’s ability to convert pressure and chances into points.

"What I was pleased about, especially the two Tests we played against the Springboks in New Zealand, was that every opportunity we got, we took, whereas last year, we created opportunities but didn't take them,” he said."We put ourselves under pressure and allowed the Springboks to get ahead and when you do that, you play catch-up rugby. In the first four Tests this year, we got ahead and could dictate. We're making the most of opportunities and making good decisions. Guys are a year further on, we realised we didn't quite get it right last year, a bit of confidence builds and you back yourselves. I think that's probably the main difference."

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