Flanker keen to find his mojo and send rivals home with tails between their legs.

A record run, a psychological blow ahead of next year's World Cup and a boost in personal performance - Richie McCaw has much on his mind this week.

A few days before the final test in an already secured series is possibly the perfect time to look at the bigger picture, with McCaw allowing himself to step momentarily outside of the rote "one-game-at-a-time" mantra.

All Blacks centre Conrad Smith will miss the third test against England and is in doubt for the remainder of the Super Rugby season after breaking a bone in his hand. Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen front the Hamilton media as they look to continue to 'make things tough for England.

The captain talked history at the team hotel in Hamilton yesterday, of the near-term variety and future theorising. But before a potential place in the record books for his team, a more individual aim beckons.

By his own admission, McCaw was some way short of his best during the second test in Dunedin, perhaps still showing signs of an injury-enforced spell on the sidelines earlier this season. The flanker has been back on the field since last month but appeared off the pace as England helped themselves to a halftime lead at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

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Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen celebrate a hard fought All Blacks victory and repelling a determined England challenge 28-27 in Dunedin.

Encouragingly for player and team ahead of the third test at Waikato Stadium, McCaw bounced back to aid in the All Blacks' second-half revival, but he knows there remains ample room for improvement.

"It's all right," he said of his form. "I wouldn't say it's the top-of-the-drawer just yet. In the second half, it felt easy and that's the way it is when the game's going well - you're getting on and doing things. The first half, I made a couple of mistakes and that gets on top of you.

"But they're easily fixed, you've just got to make sure you go about your business. It's okay but it could always be better and that's what we're always aiming to do."

Now sitting one short of the record for major test playing nations, the All Blacks will certainly deserve all the accolades coming their way if No17 is accrued in Hamilton next week.

That micro aim will surprise few, considering the All Blacks are seeking to dominate world rugby unlike any side seen. Another important step on that road could arrive this weekend, when they can level the major nations record of 17 straight victories.

This is the second chance McCaw and his colleagues have had to tie the mark held jointly by the 1965-69 All Blacks and 1997-98 South Africa teams. The previous instance, two years ago in Brisbane, ended with a disappointing draw against the Wallabies, and McCaw hoped lessons had since been learned.

"We're not going to not talk about it - it's just one of those things where if we do the job right, it'll be a nice little thing to have."

Hear the All Blacks post match after their 28-27 victory against England, Brodie Retallick, Jerome Kaino, Ben Smith and Ma'a Nonu tell what the match was like.

So, too, would a mental boost ahead of the World Cup defence next year. With the rivalry against England growing by the game, Hamilton holds the penultimate chance to inflict some psychological damage before the tournament on English soil.

While McCaw was uncertain about the effect another defeat would have on the tourists, he was intent on discovering just that.

England coached Andy Farrel and Stuart Lancaster lament the critical decision making that let the All Blacks dominate the third quarter of Dunedin's second test match.

"I think the underlying feeling within the team is that we haven't put a performance together that we're really proud of."

McCaw v England
First test
Metres: 8, Carries: 6, Tackles: 12, Missed tackles: 3; Turnovers won: 2.
Second test
Metres: 9, Carries: 9, Tackles: 9, Missed tackles: 2; Turnovers won: 0.