Richie McCaw says the All Blacks preparation for tomorrow's test against Scotland has been one of the best he's experienced on an end of year tour.
With 10 days in Edinburgh it has been an unusually long build up for the touring side, but McCaw believes the extra few days has reaped some benefits.
"I think so. Often we're a wee bit rushed to be honest," he said after the All Blacks captain's run in sprinkling rain at Murrayfield today.
"It has been a reasonably long one, but we knew that before we got here and the guys have prepared pretty well and are excited about tomorrow.
"When you know it's going to be a long week before you start you build as such and I think we've done that pretty well. The guys can't wait to get out there. The prep is done and it's a just matter of just doing the job now."
The All Blacks have noticeably cranked up their preparation each day with training early in the week heavy on detail, but low on intensity.
McCaw felt there was no chance of rust and said despite a number of changes from the side that drew with Australia in Brisbane the squad had gelled together well.
"It's not a long time since we last played. This squads pretty much the same. It's been a good week," he said. "We got over the travel and we're just excited which is great. We want to get off to a good start. Everyone knows they'll get a start in the first two week and I think that helps."
While most of the squad took things pretty lightly, the kickers got to know the Murrayfield pitch today with Dan Carter, Beauden Barrett and Aaron Cruden all striking the ball particularly well, while rookie halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Ben Smith also put plenty of boot to ball.
Of course the empty stadium will be full for tomorrow's Remembrance Day test and McCaw expects an emotionally charged atmosphere.
The All Blacks will be wearing a red poppy and the significance of the occasion is not lost on their captain.
"It is a significant day and over the years we've got to play at this time of the year up here," he said. "We've talked about it, it's been mentioned, but we need to go out and play well ourselves, that's the key.
"For myself, you understand the significance of what's gone before and that has always been a motivation for this team as well."
Though the new caps, hooker Dane Coles and halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow, had been a bit daunted early in the week, McCaw felt like they were well prepared and ready to make their test debuts off the bench.
The only thing left was to ensure the players were ready for the afternoon kick off, which McCaw said would roll around a lot quicker than the night time tests they had become accustomed to.
McCaw was not overly concerned about inexperienced French referee Jerome Garces.
"You don't really know a hell of a lot, but the key is to take that influence away. You do that by focusing on your job. If we allow his decisions to influence how we're going we're in trouble.
"We cost ourselves three weeks ago as well with a guy [Tony Woodcock] in the bin. It was our own fault we didn't heed the warning."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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