Sun, 04 Sep 2011
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is taking nothing for granted with the countdown continuing to the Rugby World Cup.
The tournament kicks off on Friday, with hosts New Zealand taking on Tonga.
New Zealand are the definite pre-tournament favourites, but have a well-publicised history of underperforming on the biggest stage.
They lost to France in the quarter-finals in 2007 and the same side who unexpectedly beat them in 1999.
Their only title came in the inaugural edition in 1987, and their last match saw them beaten by Australia in the Tri Nations decider.
"I don't think you ever ease into Test matches to be honest. There's a bit of hurt from what happened seven days ago in Australia," McCaw said.
"We want to make sure we work hard in training to rectify the things we didn't get right. We need to make sure we perform on Saturday.
"As (coach) Graham (Henry) said, everyone wants to be out there playing. So we'll all have to make sure we perform in order to get that chance.
"We've got to set a standard we're happy with, then look to improve it. You can't just come out and turn it on when you think you have to because you'll be too late by then.
"We need to make sure we sort the things we need to and improve, but it doesn't mean you start lower. You start where we've been and then take a step up."
New Zealand will face bogey-team France in the pool stage this time.
Despite a history of underperforming, McCaw wants to ensure his team goes into the tournament unaffected by the nervousness felt by their fans.
"I think there is a bit of anxiousness from everyone," McCaw said. "The All Blacks lost last time we were out on the field a week ago so people are wondering what's going to happen.
"I think from our point of view we can't be anxious ourselves, but we've got to look forward to those challenges.
"The French is an obvious one because there's a bit of history there and obviously they are one of the top nations traditionally, so that's why people are talking about it, but from our point of view we've got to get past Tonga and get started early.
"That's a challenge we've got to sort out, but you can't be worried about it. I think the nerves before the game are good, but we've got to back ourselves to train well, have the right answers and the right game to play well and win those ones."
As well as France and Tonga, the All Blacks will face Canada and Japan in the pool stage. If they finish top, they'd face the team finishing second in Pool B, which could be England, Argentina or Scotland.