Richie McCaw has pinpointed the All Blacks' big World Cup advantage — dealing with expectations.

England have made an emphatic start to the World Cup year, beating the world No. 2 Ireland and smashing France. And McCaw said Ireland's 2018 victory over the All Blacks meant people forgot how close England had come to beating New Zealand beforehand.

It is shaping as an even World Cup in Japan but McCaw, the legendary loosie who led New Zealand to two World Cup titles, said the All Blacks had one key factor on their side.

The All Blacks were used to relentless winning expectations beyond what other countries dealt with. They would be interested in watching new levels of pressure affect other teams.


"As much as everyone talked about Ireland, I think England had a pretty good day that day even though they didn't get across the line but they're going to be a threat against whoever," McCaw told Jim Kayes on Radio Sport.

"Whether the All Blacks have got the goods to win three in a row at the World Cup, only time will tell, but all these teams can cause grief for each other easily.

"Certainly for some teams if they started getting talked around as they're the favourites to win, it can change your outlook on things.

"To do it three weeks in a row, where you can get yourself up and nail a quarter-final but then you've won nothing at that point, you get through that with a big relief and then you think 'jeez we've got to do that again' and then do it again.

"When you have expectation around that, the energy and the process of getting back to the start of each week, that's probably the toughest part.

"But I think that's one advantage the All Blacks do have. Each week, that's been there whether you're at a World Cup or not. It goes up a level at World Cup obviously.

"It will be interesting to see how teams react, maybe a wee indication for Ireland against England last week where the expectation was Ireland were just going to go out and do the job and it didn't happen. That might have had something to do with it. Who knows?"

McCaw believed experience wasn't necessarily a winning factor, but it did allow players to operate better in tight moments.


"I think in 2015 (World Cup) some of those moments during games, and in the years leading up in-between, they made a hell of a difference to call upon when it counted," he said.