New Zealand v England: Richie McCaw demands improvement
New Zealand v England: Richie McCaw admits the All Blacks must improve after unconvincing first Test win
Richie McCaw believes New Zealand must improve to seal a series win against England in the second Test in Dunedin on Saturday.
England are expected to be bolstered by their star names from Aviva Premiership finalists Saracens and Northampton Saints available and the Crusaders flanker expects Stuart Lancaster’s side to get better as the series progresses.
It was pretty competitive around the breakdown and we expected the physicality they showed
The All Blacks captain, who won his 125th cap in the Eden Park showdown, spoke out after a 78th-minute Conrad Smith try sparked by a quick tap penalty from outside-half Aaron Cruden gave his team a 20-15 win in the first Test in Auckland.
It was their 15th win on the bounce since England won at Twickenham in November 2012, but McCaw feels there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We got there in the end but we need to be a lot better going into the second Test because we expect England to be better,” McCaw said.
“We got what we expected from England. It was pretty competitive around the breakdown and we expected the physicality they showed.”
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen claimed that the players were only operating at 60-70 per cent of what they are capable of and McCaw agreed that they were rusty after seven months since their last outing.
“We were a bit rusty in the first half,” he added. “Test rugby is a step up in intensity and pace and it felt like we were half a yard off it. We started to get into the game in the second half and built a bit of pressure.”
While Cruden had a disappointing game at outside-half, his accuracy with the boot to land five penalties to keep New Zealand and quick-thinking to run the ball with three minutes of the contest remaining got the world champions over the line.
And McCaw revealed he would have gone for the posts had Cruden not set off on his own.
“I didn’t say anything to Aaron, but I believe you have to back your boys to have a crack,” he said.
“If they’re always looking at me then they’ll never take any opportunities. Guys have to be able to think for themselves.
“I was ready to point at the posts but he thought better of it and at the end of the day it paid off. If we’d kicked the goal we’d have been up by three but England would have had the chance to go for field position again.”