All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw heads to Britain with more records to break at the Rugby World Cup before he is expected to hang up his boots.
He is fresh from breaking the world record for Test appearances, racking up his 142nd in August in the 41-13 thrashing of Australia.
Having played in 14 World Cup match wins in three previous tournaments, McCaw is two short of the mark held jointly by Australian George Gregan and England’s Jason Leonard.
His 16 Cup appearances put him six behind Leonard’s 22, although he would eclipse that only if the All Blacks made the final or third-place playoff and he played in every match.
Having made his Test debut in 2001, McCaw said he was “grateful that I’m still here to have another crack” at a World Cup.
“But you don’t want to be here just to say you’re going,” he said.
“You’re going there to do a job and that’s what I play the game for. You want to be in these situations.”
The defending champions fly out of Auckland on Thursday night and McCaw echoes the sentiments of teammates about to get their first taste of the tournament, when he says he just wants to get on the plane.
“It’s been a wee while coming this year,” he said.
“We’ve done everything we want to do and the guys are in pretty good space, so I just can’t wait to get over there.”
McCaw’s first two Cup experiences ended in disappointment, with the All Blacks’ semi-final defeat to Australia in 2003 and then skippering the side in their shock quarter-final exit at the hands of France in 2007.
But four years ago, after playing with a busted foot, the openside flanker became just the second New Zealand captain after halfback David Kirk in 1987 to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.
McCaw, 34, said having been to a World Cup before did give him a different perspective.
“I’ve had some good experiences and some not so good ones,” he said.
“It’s just an understanding of what the challenge is, and the intensity and the hype that goes with it.”