Thursday Mar 24, 2011
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw hopes the experience of past failures will spur his team on in its quest for an elusive second World Cup success.
The All Blacks have regularly gone into World Cups as favorites but they have won just one - the inaugural tournament in 1987 on home soil.
The five World Cups since have seen the team either fail to produce its best or stumble in the face of opponents who raise their game against the world's leading team.
With less than six months remaining before New Zealand hosts the tournament for a second time, McCaw denied the All Blacks were chokers but acknowledged they had to face up to their recent disappointments.
"There's a few of us in the team who have been through those experiences and you hope those experiences will hurt," said McCaw. "You can't hide from it, it's there and we have to deal with it.
"The World Cup should be tough to win. That's why people appreciate it. I don't think there's a mental block with the All Blacks. You know what you need to do, it's just a matter of doing it."
New Zealand is currently the No.1-ranked side in the world and looks to be coming into prime form just at the right time.
The All Blacks swept to the Tri-Nations title last year and barely broke sweat as they eased to the Grand Slam of the British Isles in November.
McCaw will not be underestimating any team going into the World Cup, however, and said he expects the Six Nations team to put up a good fight.
He picked out England, which clinched the Six Nations title on Saturday despite a heavy loss to Ireland in Dublin, as a team to watch out for.
"We won't take anyone for granted, we've learnt those lessons I can tell you," McCaw said.
"If you look at what happened before the last World Cup and then what happened at the wash-up (when New Zealand and Australia failed to make the semifinals), then yes I expect the northern hemisphere teams will be challenging.
"England tripped up against Ireland but they certainly showed they know how to win games. If you look at the personnel the French have and even the Welsh, they have some good players too, they can all be threats. Things will change between now and then, there's lots of time for that in the buildup. Teams will go up a level."