All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has urged his team to pick up from where they left off in 2013 in their first Test of the year against England.
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has urged his team to pick up from where they left off in 2013 in their first Test of the year against England on Saturday.
New Zealand have traditionally been slow starters to the Test season, but with expectations running high after an unbeaten year, McCaw says there will be no excuses for a rusty performance in the opening match of the three-Test series.
“The reality is it's not going to be perfect because you've got 15 guys trying to stop you,” said McCaw after Friday's captain's run at Eden Park.
“But accepting mistakes just because you haven't played together for while, that's not the standard you need to be at when you're playing for the All Blacks.
“We've all played plenty of rugby up until this point so there are no excuses, really.”
The world champions host a below-strength English outfit but McCaw is not underestimating the tourists and says his players know they must make the step up from Super Rugby.
“All Test footy is different to what we've been at for the last two or three months,” he said on Friday.
Likewise, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has poured cold water over suggestions the hosts will win easily.
“Their environment seems to be one of just keep quiet and get on and do the work, and that makes them dangerous,” said Hansen of England.
With Kieran Read ruled out, Jerome Kaino will start his first Test since the 2011 World Cup Final at the same ground.
After two seasons in Japan, Kaino has been in impressive form for the Blues in Super Rugby this year.
“I never wanted him to go in the first place – we had a bit of a discussion about that,” said Hansen earlier this week.
“But he always said he'd come back and he's come back at the right time. I think he's like a caged animal.”
“We all knew he was a classy player before he left. They must have taken it pretty easy on him in Japan – he's fresh and ready to go,” added McCaw.