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McCaw and Williams still in doubt
Sportal.co.nz - 22/06/2008
Mixed in with the pleasure of the All Blacks' performances heading into the Philips Tri Nations is the worrying prospect of starting the campaign without two key forwards - captain and flanker Richie McCaw and lock Ali Williams.
A solitary Test against Ireland and the two-match Iveco series against England were for all intents and purposes a warm-up to a hopeful repeat of last year's successful Bledisloe Cup and Tri Nations efforts.
While the All Blacks coaches were happy with how the side has built through its first three hit outs, they would be far from pleased with the possibility that both are doubtful starters against South Africa in a fortnight's time.
All Blacks management confirmed just after midnight that both x-rays had come up with no signs of any breaks, but McCaw's injury in particular seemed serious and he was expected to have an MRI scan on either Sunday or Monday.
That would create real headaches for coach Graham Henry and dampen his mood considerably, which was measuring at mild contentment after the second Test hammering of England.
"We were reasonably happy. 44-12 is a good result against a good England team so we're pleased with that," Henry said.
"I think we're making some progress. I think if we had to come up with a result three weeks ago and say 'where would you like to be' this is probably bigger than we anticipated.
"We've got a lot to work on but we're scoring tries from set piece which is very positive. (There's) a lot to work on at the breakdown, I think we got better defensively as the game went on but we have got to do some work there was well.
"Overall a pleasing performance but frustrating because we're not quite where we want to be yet and there's a few injuries and we're not quite sure of the significance of those at this point in time."
An area of huge concern is the lineout, where the All Blacks again struggled in losing three of their own throws and failing to steal a single one of England's.
Henry said the lineout performance had dropped when Williams went off, which would no doubt lead to even more concern if he was unable to front against the formidable Springboks pack in Wellington on July 5.
McCaw's brilliance at the breakdown and around the field would also be impossible to replace, although Henry paid tribute to Rodney So'oialo's leadership when stepping into the captaincy role.
To lose McCaw and Williams would leave a huge hole in the forwards but there is little stress afforded to the form of the backline with Dan Carter running the ship in outstanding fashion.
"I think he's played pretty specially in these last two games," Henry said. "He's gone up a couple of notches from what he was in the Super 14 and probably recent internationals.
"I think he's enjoying his rugby, he wants to express himself, he's obviously kicking beautifully and scores the odd try.
"But he's running the ship well, he's prepared to have a crack and he's always been a very good defensive player so he's gone in recent times from a very good defensive player, a good navigator of the team to a real threat with the ball and his goalkicking has always been special."
Backs coach Wayne Smith also had high praise for second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu's efforts in casting off his tag as an international enigma, and for the debut outings of centre Richard Kahui and wing Rudi Wulf.
"Richard was strong as we know is he, had some good touches, to score on your debut is pretty special. I thought physically he was really good," Smith said.
"Rudi didn't perhaps get the same opportunities of some of the others but what he did, he did well. I'm really pleased for those guys."
The squad now takes a well-deserved one-week break before reassembling in Wellington on June 29 for the huge challenge of toppling the world champions.
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The Big Interview: Richie McCaw
December 20th 2006 Posted in Main Menu
The Big Interview: Richie McCaw November 05, 2006
The New Zealand captain has driven his team to new heights with his energy on the field, but is remarkably relaxed off it
It is October 1943, and Flight Commander James “Mack” McCaw and Flight Lieutenant William “Dusty” Miller of 486 (New Zealand) Squadron are engaged in a ground attack mission over France when their Hawker Typhoons are hit by anti-aircraft fire near Paris.
Smoke stretching for more than 100 yards billows from the stricken aircraft, but as the pilots climb and prepare to bail out, the flames suddenly extinguish and they manage to nurse the damaged fighters back to their base in West Sussex.
Later that evening when they sit down to compile a report, their near-death experience is described in a mere six words: “Hit by flak, landed at Tangmere.” The 486 motto (written in Maori) is Hiwa Hau Maka, or Beware of the Wild Winds. The adventure is dismissed as just another day at the office.
RICHIE McCAW is studying a portrait of his face taken moments after the 21-20 defeat to South Africa at Rustenburg in September. It was his 10th Test as All Blacks captain and the first in which he had tasted defeat. The losing stare on his sweat-stained face is accentuated by a gash under his left eye that looks as if it has been carved with a Stanley knife.
“There must be an easier way to make a living,” I suggest.
“Well, you would think so, wouldn’t you?” he says, laughing. “But it’s fun.”
“You’ll have to explain that to me.”
“Well, pictures like that wouldn’t suggest it, but it really is fun.”
“It looks bloody sore,” I observe.
“No,” he says with a shrug, “you don’t notice it in the game when the adrenaline is pumping.”
“How did it happen?”
“I just got clipped in a ruck by a stray arm or elbow,” he explains. “They usually take you off and stitch it, but they’re using this new staple gun now, so you’re not off the field for too long. Bang, bang, bang and you’re back out there. Then they whip the staples out at the end of the game and stitch it up.”
“How many stitches?” “Six or seven, but the doc did a good job. The scar is not too bad.”
I show him a photo from a different game of blood pumping from another eye.
“Yeah,” he says, smiling, “I’ve probably split each eyebrow 30 times, and I’ve split both cheekbones at least half-a-dozen times . . . so it’s not unusual, but some days you wake up on a Sunday morning and ask yourself why you do it.”
“And how do you answer?”
“Well,” he replies, “I suppose it’s just one of the hazards of my position. Obviously as an openside flanker you’re into contact a fair bit and if I don’t get among that, somebody else will. That’s the attitude you need to play in that position. Sometimes, when you haven’t played for a while, it can hurt — and I know it’s going to hurt in this first game against England — but the body becomes accustomed to it and you learn to deal with it . . . Don’t ask what I’m going to be like when I’m 30- or 40-odd, but we’ll worry about that then.”
HIGH above the clouds over Kent in July 1944, as he chased another V1 flying bomb bound for London, Jim McCaw wouldn’t have dared to dream of what his life would be when he was 30- or 40-odd — he had seen too many friends perish in the war.
Commitment to the cause was imperative when intercepting the missiles; they were launched at a speed of 350mph and once they had slipped the anti-aircraft guns on the coast, a pilot had two or three minutes to destroy them before they reached London. The level of skill required was extraordinary. So were the risks.
Twenty-nine New Zealanders are credited with destroying five or more of the many V1s launched against Britain. McCaw, whose personal tally was a remarkabl
0 Comments 315 weeks
A Message from the Crusaders captain
May 17, 2007
On behalf of the 2007 Crusaders team and management, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the support and enthusiasm you have provided throughout the 12th Crusade.
No one is more disappointed than the players and management staff that we were unable to make the final, but we remain proud – both of the effort and commitment that everyone has shown to the cause throughout the campaign – and also of the people that we represent.
The Crusaders have, and always will be, a special team.
It is an honour and a privilege to wear the jersey and represent the people of the franchise. This is something we, as players, will never ever take lightly.
As with all campaigns, there have been some special moments and some great memories.
Even in defeat, I was proud of the way the team collectively held its head high, and humbled by the genuine nature of the Pretoria crowd’s post-match reaction to us.
It reinforced, even at a time when we had not achieved the outcome we were seeking, why the Crusaders are such a great team to play for.
To Jacko [Chris Jack], Johnny [Johnny Leo’o] and Azz [Aaron Mauger], thanks for the memories guys. You are all Crusaders legends, and the place won’t seem the same without you, but we wish you well in your futures beyond the Crusaders next year.
Despite their departure, a lot of talented young players have been introduced to the side this year, with their being nine new Crusaders in all.
This should stand us all in good stead moving forward, and make the 13th Crusade one for us all to look forward to.
Crusaders captain 2007
1 Comment 315 weeks
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