Gregor Paul

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

All Blacks: McCaw ignores the hype

No one does matter of fact quite like Richie McCaw.

He hasn't bought into any of the hype and theories washing around in Dunedin in the build up to Saturday's test.

For him, it has been business pretty much as usual. But not quite. There has been a little extra edge and tension within the All Blacks. Not because they are feeling the external pressure - but because, despite winning in Auckland, they didn't meet their own high standards.

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McCaw is never happy when things aren't the way they should be, but he keeps it hidden. Arguably his best quality as a leader is his ability to focus, stay calm and fix problems by working at them and not yelling at them.

So when he talked at Forsyth Barr Stadium late on Friday afternoon, there wasn't much for him to say other than state the obvious.

"It has been a big step up," he said of the All Blacks' preparation this week.

"If we have some of the inaccuracies that we had last week we will come second. The intensity has been there this week but we have to make sure that transfers to performance tomorrow. The way the guys have gone about things is much better than last week.

"We have had a good week but that doesn't mean we are going to get a good performance tomorrow.. The guys are pretty clear and excited about tomorrow."

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The All Blacks will have noted not only the personnel changes they have made to their 23, but they will also, no doubt, have a rye smirk at the news former Crusaders and Hurricanes utility forward Michael Paterson has been called into the travelling party.

Paterson, who played for New Zealand Under-21s and wasn't that far off an All Black call-up in 2010, was in Christchurch visiting family when the call came.

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But while New Zealand will be aware of the increased threat England pose with Owen Farrell, Billy Twelvetrees and Tom Wood in the starting line-up, McCaw says they haven't been overly focused on the opposition

"We realised this series was going to be hellishly tough coming off the last couple of games we have had [with England]. It's exactly what we expected but we didn't help ourselves. We need to be better because they are going to be better."

- Herald on Sunday

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