All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has put his team's amazing comeback in Dublin and unbeaten record in 2013 down to “self-belief.”
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has put his team's amazing unbeaten record in 2013 down to “self-belief.”
Twice this year New Zealand have come back from seemingly impossible positions to claim victory, going on become the first team in the professional era to win all their Test matches in a calendar year.
In a rare insight into his inner thoughts, moments after his side ensured their place in history with the last kick of an epic Test with Ireland, McCaw said his attitude on the field stems from something former All Black captain Todd Blackadder told him in the heat of battle.
New Zeland's comeback from 19-0 down to win 24-22 in Dublin follows their win over South Africa in October when they were a man down and trailing 27-24 in the second-half but turned the game around, scoring two tries, to retain the Rugby Championship.
“With this side it comes down to self-belief,” said McCaw, who was winning his 124th cap on the ground where he made his Test debut in 2001.
“I remember when I was a young player and Canterbury were down by a large margin in a Ranfurly Shield game and the skipper Todd Blackadder (who captained the All Blacks 14 times in the late 1990's) turned to us and said this isn't a lost cause, this is winnable.
“He was right too. We had 15 guys out there believing till the end that day and we had the same against South Africa and Ireland, because as captain if I let my head drop then theirs will as well.
“Here (Dublin) we stuck to that adage. We tried throughout the match to play the type of rugby we wanted to play, and it was only really the final try that saw us succeed in doing so.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen concurred with his captain.
“What Blackadder said that day is true. You are never out of a game,” said the 54-year-old.
“What we will take out of this is it doesn't matter what it says up on the scoreboard. If you have the composure and the mental fortitude you can redress any deficit.
“This sort of match will serve the young players well.”
McCaw said the emotions at achieving a 100 percent winning record in their 14 Tests were fairly mixed because of how tight the Irish game had been.
“It is relief at the moment,” he said.
“But as the day goes on and the weeks we will reflect on what has been a tough year for us.
“A lot of pride and hard work has gone into the year. Around 40 players have been part of it through injuries and selection choices. But I think we can pat ourselves on the back.
“Reflecting back on the year, we've played pretty much all the teams round the world from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere,” he said.
“The style of games have been very different between the sides from the two hemispheres.
“We've won with good performances and then we've won when our performance hasn't been so good, where the opposition hasn't allowed us to express ourselves.
“I'm very proud of what we have achieved. Obviously we would like to put up a very good performance every time we play but don't forget there are 15 guys out there trying to stop us.
“We've been tested in every way and we have come out on top.”