McCaw hopes for more liberated NZ

Captain Richie McCaw hopes the naming of the All Blacks squad will lift the selection anxiety which has permeated their game for much of the year.

McCaw will lead the vastly experienced world champions at the tournament starting in less than three weeks and made a point of reminding his 30 teammates of the scale of the task.

No All Blacks team has won the world crown outside New Zealand and no side has defended their title in seven previous tournaments.

He agreed with the sentiment of former All Blacks skipper Sean Fitzpatrick, who described this year’s tournament in the United Kingdom as the toughest yet to win because of the quality on offer across the top seven teams.

McCaw, who will attend his fourth World Cup, issued a reminder of New Zealand’s five successive tournament failures before notching their second world title in 2011.

“A few of us have had lessons about some things you do and some things you don’t do,” he said.

“If we just try and think that because we’ve won before, we know what to do – I think you’re kidding yourself.

“The challenge is big and that’s why you play the game.”

Aside from the 41-13 thrashing of Australia in Auckland two weeks ago, the All Blacks have struggled to find their best form in the short lead-up to the World Cup.

McCaw believes the competition for places and hype surrounding the squad selection on Sunday had played a debilitating role at times.

“There’s been a little bit of anxiety across everyone because you knew you certainly weren’t assured of anything.”

A veteran of a world record 142 Tests, McCaw reckons form in Super Rugby and in the Rugby Championship now count for little.

More important are the weeks leading up to the tournament and the combinations formed during pool play, which is expected to throw up a series of lop-sided wins for his team.

The quarter-final onwards is when the tournament proper begins for most of the big guns.

“The team that gets the job done will be the one that gets it right in the next six weeks,” McCaw said. “The quicker we get our head around that, the better.”

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