Richie McCaw will savour his record-equalling 133rd All Blacks match largely because of what happened in his 103rd.

This morning's test against Argentina sees McCaw pull level with Colin Meads atop the All Blacks appearances chart, an achievement the captain can treasure.

It might have been different had the result been reversed in his 103rd test, on October 23, 2011. A win then over France not only brought with it the Webb Ellis cup but removed what McCaw called the "big elephant" in the room.

The nature of that particular beast meant McCaw was unable to fully appreciate his time with the All Blacks after the 2007 World Cup failure, a fact he admitted on the eve of today's clash in La Plata. On reflection, a rarity for McCaw, he realised his one-track mind in the wake of the 2007 tournament restricted his enjoyment.

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That all changed on a magical night at Eden Park and McCaw revealed a victory in that game allowed him a better opportunity to relish matches that would follow.

"Looking back, after the 2007 World Cup, you put a lot of pressure on yourself and the team because we'd tripped up there," he said. "You didn't really enjoy what you did every day - you were focused on something down the track. You'd get closer and closer to that goal without actually recognising sometimes what you were doing right then. So you look back and think, perhaps I should have enjoyed those performances and games in those years, instead of always moving onto the next thing.


When you get to my stage of career, you realise you've got to make the most of every time you get a chance to play, because they start running out.
Richie Macaw

"Since 2011, you've had a bit more of a chance to acknowledge what you do each week. Perhaps in that period I got a little bit lopsided on where my focus was."

It wasn't necessarily a regret - McCaw had few and he wouldn't necessarily do anything differently - after all, that singular focus worked well in the end. As he approaches the twilight of his time in black which could end after next year's World Cup, the 33-year-old is ensuring he lives in the now rather than thinking any further ahead.

"When you get to my stage of career, you realise you've got to make the most of every time you get a chance to play, because they start running out," he said. "I don't see it like [a job] - I see it as a privilege. We're just lucky to get rewarded to do what we love. That's something you keep reminding yourself, that to be in a position to do that you're pretty lucky."

McCaw said the three years since the World Cup win had "gone in a flash", acknowledging much has changed when comparing the mood within the All Blacks, 12 months from the title defence in England, to what it was in 2010.

"There isn't that big elephant. I guess the first couple of years after the World Cup, you've been able to park all that and not be constantly reminded about the World Cup and forget about everything else.

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"I think next year, as it gets closer, there will be more and more talk and I'd like to think the intensity and preparation will be exactly the same, if not better."

By then, McCaw would have moved past Meads.

"I haven't got too carried away thinking about it. It's a pretty cool achievement to equal Sir Colin but, if you get worried about that, you forget about what you have to do each time you go on the field. I've always been big on making sure each time you get out there you go and perform and enjoy doing it. I still enjoy it as much as I did when I started."