McCaw feeds off Eden Park pressure

(Rugby News Service) Saturday 15 October 2011
 
McCaw feeds off Eden Park pressure
Richie McCaw says the All Blacks must rise to the occasion

AUCKLAND, 15 Oct. - Just another match? Richie McCaw is having none of that.

As the All Blacks prepare for their semi-final clash with Australia at Eden Park on Sunday, their skipper says the key is to embrace the enormity of the task while keeping things as normal as possible.

"It's not another game, I think you acknowledge that from the start,” McCaw said on Saturday.

"The way you train, the things you've got to do during the week, obviously you've got to make sure they are pretty similar. I think when you get into tomorrow night, what's different is the excitement and what's at the end. The big thing is not to let that get on top of you and inhibit you from going out there and playing well.

"It's not another game but you've got to do a lot of the things exactly the same to ensure you perform."

Having made 101 Test appearances in the famous black jersey, McCaw has played in his fair share of pressure matches and believes in harnessing the buzz of the build-up.

Pride and passion

“You don't want to get overhyped but you want to use the excitement of the opportunity to make sure you perform well,” he said. “I think getting that balance right is key and how we've sort of built up this week has been good.

“The guys have been excited but not over the top but you can feel a reasonable feeling there and we realise we're in for a big match."

However, it is not only the men who run on to the field who have to keep a handle on their emotions.

“You have a tendency to want to do more as the games get up to this level,” said New Zealand assistant coach Wayne Smith. "But you actually need to do a bit less because a lot of the emotion and excitement is already there.

“For me it's been a matter of doing the routines as normal, doing the homework but trying to keep everything in check."

Fortress

Eden Park has become something of a fortress for the All Blacks when it comes to playing Australia, with the Wallabies failing to win there for 24 years.

McCaw does not believe the memory of past triumphs will give New Zealand an advantage but insists pride and passion can.

“I think it's the men that put the jersey on,” he said. “Just because of history or whatever, every time you go out there you've got to start from the start. It really means nothing to be honest.

"In front of 60,000 people, a fair majority of them supporting you, it's pretty awesome and as a player you want to go out and perform.

“I think if anything that's what reminds the guys that it's the occasion to play well."

RNS om/tc/mr