Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: No excuses - McCaw

Richie McCaw is ready to lead his team into battle against England at Eden Park tomorrow night. Photo / Getty
Richie McCaw is ready to lead his team into battle against England at Eden Park tomorrow night. Photo / Getty

It's the first test of the year but for All Blacks captain Richie McCaw there are no excuses for a rusty performance against England tomorrow night.

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Speaking after the team's captain's run at Eden Park this afternoon, McCaw said every player in the squad had had enough game time to be to be capable of going up a level.

"The reality is it's not going to be perfect because you've got 15 guys trying to stop you but accepting mistakes just because you haven't played together for while, that's not the standard you need to be at when you're playing for the All Blacks," he said. "We've all played plenty of rugby up until this point so there are no excuses, really."

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It is the start of a three-match series and another step on the journey to a World Cup defence, however, McCaw the focus had solely been on a one-off performance against Stuart Lancaster's men, the last team to beat the All Blacks when they stunned them at Twickenham at the end of 2012.

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"We understand the challenge that's in front of us.

Test footy is different to what we've been doing for the last two or three months so we're going to have to make sure we're quick to get up to speed with that and the intensity that comes from it," McCaw said.

He said the debutants in the team, Malakai Fekitoa and Patrick Tuipulotu, appeared quietly excited about the challenge ahead, with another "rookie", the returning Jerome Kaino, also maintaining a quiet intensity. McCaw said Kaino's form for the Blues on his return from Japan was no surprise to him.

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"We all knew he was a classy player before he left. They must have taken it pretty easy on him in Japan - he's fresh and ready to go."

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- APNZ

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