ALL BLACKS CAPTAIN Richie McCaw insists there’s too much at stake for his team to treat their next clash with Australia as a dead rubber.
The Bledisloe Cup is already in New Zealand’s possession, but there is still plenty to play for from a Kiwi perspective against the Wallabies on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
A win would see the All Blacks’ incredible winning streak reach 17 games, which would equal the longest in rugby history and put them in the box seat to break it.
“I am not going to say it has not been thought about a little bit,” McCaw told reporters after New Zealand’s final training session in Brisbane. But the first thing is to back up from a good performance two weeks ago. We need to perform tomorrow night. The huge desire is to play better, if we do that job right those things look after themselves.”
The only other side to have notched 17 consecutive wins was the All Blacks of 1965-1969.
“There are some real legends amongst them, I have been lucky enough to meet a few of them,” McCaw said. ”They are good men. They would have played for similar reasons that we do but they did it over a long time, years apart. It’s been shorter for us because we play more.
“I think every time you play Tests you want to live up to the standards those men set over the years,” he added.
Then there is the tantalising prospect for McCaw of getting one over former mentor Robbie Deans. McCaw’s autobiography, The Open Side, was released earlier this month and lifted the veil on his own assessment of Deans’ coaching ability. In the book, he revealed his preference for a Graham Henry-led New Zealand side after their 2007 World Cup failure and said Deans struggled to work collaboratively with his assistant coaches.
“Just because you want to beat his team doesn’t mean you think any less of him as a man,” McCaw said. ”You don’t want to make his job any easier when you come against him. But I have a lot of respect for what Robbie has done. He has certainly helped me along the way … (and) we will still have a beer afterwards. Hopefully.”
It all adds up to a match on Saturday night that looks set to be about as far away from a dead rubber as you could possibly get.
“The last thing we want to do is let our standard slip,” McCaw said. “We are prepared for a big test. I thought the intensity at training has been good. We want to put a good performance out there because the Wallabies will do that, I am sure.”