McCaw admits pressure on ABs is immense
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw says the pressure on his team in the lead up to tomorrow night's test has been up there with the most intense he has experienced before a Bledisloe Cup game.
McCaw said the only week that could compare was the one after the 34-19 loss to the Wallabies in Sydney in 2008.
The All Black's 12-12 draw with the Wallabies last weekend has seen the Australian side rocket in confidence and when asked whether the aura of the All Blacks was crumbling McCaw said, at Eden Park today, that last week's draw felt like a loss.
''After the game probably both teams felt like that and certainly when you review the game on Monday it was a similar sort of situation.
''That puts guys on the front of their seats and we want to make sure we come out and perform better this week. It's all words so far, it's about putting it into action tomorrow.''
McCaw said the atmosphere at training had been ''a lot sharper than the week before'' and the side was dealing well with the pressure heaped on them.
''There's always pressure. When you pull on the All Black jersey there is always the pressure on to perform but making that be a weight on your shoulders isn't going to help.
''I just think back to 2008 we got put to the sword in Sydney, there was a fair bit of edge that week and I suppose it's comparable, definitely.
''The way you get a performance is to prepare well, which I think we have done to this point and get out on the field and do your little jobs right. We get everyone doing that hopefully we will perform.''
The forward pack, in particular, would be looking to make amends for last week's performance after feeling they were outdone by the Wallabies in the second half.
''I thought the first quarter of an hour we did alright. But we certainly let the Wallaby pack get back into it and perhaps they had the edge in the second half. The big boys, come Monday, they weren't that happy.
''We have got to supply our backs with some better ball than they got last week.''
McCaw, however, refused to be drawn into any questioning of the referee's impact on the game.
''At the end of the day as a player you can't control the guy out in the middle who has got the whistle. He has got a job to do and that's the way it is. From our point of view if we are to say that the decisions that didn't go our way were the difference last week we would be kidding ourselves.
''We need to focus on what we can and make it easy as possible for the guy with the whistle. If we do that hopefully we don't have any excuses for things you may not agree with.''
It helped, McCaw said, that the side would be playing in front of almost 50,000 parochial fans at Eden Park.
''Most guys love playing here in front of a full house, it's a great place to play and you certainly don't want to lose a game here.
''The big thing is they have got an opportunity this week. To play at home at the stadium that all these guys love playing at, you don't often get these opportunities to go and perform.
''The Bledisloe is on the line and if we get the job done that's a big incentive . . . We back ourselves.''
Meanwhile, both the All Blacks and Wallabies camps today responded to the challenge issued to them by former Springboks halfback Joost van der Westhuizen.
The former South African No 9, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2011 and can no longer walk, bathe or feed himself, completed the popular ice challenge before nominating the All Blacks, Wallabies and Springboks to do the same.
McCaw said he had not seen the challenge from van der Westhuizen but a few of the team had.
''It's a pretty terrible thing that he has had to deal with.
''Every day we are in the ice after training so ... we might have to do something like that. We are always up for a challenge.''
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said they would also make sure they held their end of the bargain.
''We had a chat about that this morning. We've taken that on board and we'll work something out.''
Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?