All Blacks: Relaxed and ready

By Bevan Hurley, Cassandra Mason, Robert Smith, Newztalk ZB

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is keeping calm and carrying on as he comes up to the biggest game of his life. Photo /  Dave Lintott / photosport.co.nz
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is keeping calm and carrying on as he comes up to the biggest game of his life. Photo / Dave Lintott / photosport.co.nz

All Black captain Richie McCaw said he wouldn't be losing any sleep tonight ahead of the biggest game of his life at the Rugby World Cup.

While he admitted there were 'absolutely no guarantees', a relaxed McCaw said he had been more concerned with final preparations leading up to tomorrow night's World Cup final than fretting over the result.

"If you get to wound up and anxious you will waste a lot of energy," he told a packed press conference at the Heritage Hotel in central Auckland.

"I am not worried about anything else apart from going out there and playing well.

"The opportunity to go out on the biggest stage and play for your country against a team like the French is an opportunity that you play the game for. I just want to get out there and show that this team can play its best when it really counts."

Assistant coach Wayne Smith, attending his last press conference before he leaves the All Blacks, said that there was very little the coaching staff could do at this late stage.

He brushed off questions about where the game would be won and lost, saying it was anyone's guess.

"I would just end up with egg on my face if I started making those predictions."

McCaw said the team had been inspired by a visit from former NZRU chairman Jock Hobbs, who spoke to the team on Friday night.

He added that he hoped that he wouldn't be judged on one game alone.

"Hopefully when I leave people will say that all the history that's gone before, all the standards that have been set have been upheld, if not raised."

McCaw said that his development as a captain had been affected by the early exit from the 2007 World Cup, as well as a losing streak in 2009. He said that under those circumstances, it was possible, as captain, to either "lie down" or "look to improve".

He said he had no doubts France will play their best game of the tournament, pointing out that the media had 'loaded their guns for them'.

The biggest danger France poses, according to McCaw, is in their forward pack and especially the loose trio.

All Blacks 'no angels'

Meanwhile, French prop Nicolas Mas has hit back at suggestions of filthy play ahead of tomorrow's Rugby World Cup final, while the All Blacks know there is no room for complacency in their first final since 1995.

A column by former All Black Wayne Shelford in yesterday's New Zealand Herald warned of the French's team habit for indulging in dirty tactics.

The opinion piece has sparked plenty of counter-opinion in the French media, and a French front-rower says the All Blacks are as aggressive as any team on the field.

Mas told the Daily Telegraph this could be seen in the match against Australia. "They are not angels, either. But that is the way the game is played. It is normal that games are aggressive.

"Two teams want to win and they will do everything in their power to win, and that's aggression and passion. You can't mix the two up. It is a complex sport and there will be a huge amount of passion involved."

While the All Blacks are heavy favourites to lift the William Webb Ellis trophy tomorrow night, the team still remembers the harsh lessons of 1999 and 2007, and are not taking the French team lightly.

The scrappy form of the French in the lead up games points towards a comfortable win for the All Blacks.

But lock Sam Whitelock said it was vital they take no notice.

He said the team did not want to buy into that talk as the French have quality players, especially their forwards.

Both the All Blacks and Les Blues will complete their final training runs today.

In an interview with TVNZ this morning, injured fullback Mils Muliaina said there was no complacency "at all" in the All Black camp.

He said past form meant nothing in the knock-out section of the World Cup and that the All Blacks had learned this painful lesson before.

Muliaina - who has still been working closely with the All Blacks' back three and will be in the stands for tomorrow's final - said the stress of being a spectator was one of the hardest things to handle about his injury.

He said he felt more nervous when he was on the other side of the fence. "The hands were sweaty for a couple of hours last week."

This! Is! Sparta!

Meanwhile, Yorkshireman Dave Ellis - who is in charge of the French defence - has revealed the team found strength to beat the All Blacks when they faced each other in 2007 by adopting a Spartan siege mentality.

He told the Daily Mail that the Spartans against a million soldiers theme depicted in the movie 300 was particularly helpful.

"What we did was get a poster from the film itself and we transposed Sebastien Chabal's head on to the body of their leader (played by Gerard Butler), and on the bottom we said it was the French Federation and the 30 instead of the 300. We used some of the speeches from that, the boys took it on board and it galvanised them."

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 23 Dec 2014 05:37:08 Processing Time: 418ms