Richie McCaw: All Blacks excited to face Scotland
New Zealand captain reveals the mood in the world champions' camp ahead of today's clash at BT Murrayfield Stadium
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw insists that the world champions are taking today’s match with Scotland seriously.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen came under fire earlier in the week for making 13 changes to the starting XV that lined up in their 24-21 win over England last Saturday, before admitting that he has one eye on next year’s Rugby World Cup.
All year when someone has been called upon they have come in and done the job
McCaw, who will win his 136th cap at BT Murrayfield Stadium, has confidence in his team-mates to deliver the very high standards demanded by the famous black jersey.
“Regardless of what other people think, our guys are excited about playing a Test match at Murrayfield in front of a full house,” he said.
“There’s nothing better than putting on a black jersey to do that.
“I play against these guys in Super Rugby all the time and I know they are all good players.
“All year when someone has been called upon they have come in and done the job. I’m confident they’ll do the job well.”
While Scotland’s Kiwi head coach Vern Cotter named an unchanged starting XV, McCaw and wing/full-back Ben Smith are the only survivors from their Twickenham win, and the All Blacks are aiming for a 28th win in 30 matches against Scotland, who can count just two draws as a form of success.
The 33-year-old Crusaders star believes it will be another tough ask after Scotland impressed in their 41-31 win over Argentina last week.
“We never take it for granted,” he added. “You have to work hard for everything you get.
“The times I’ve played here, regardless of what scorelines have been, physically it’s always been a tough old battle.
“As is always the case in the northern hemisphere, the front five battle is always the key. Based on what we saw last week I think that will be the case tomorrow.
“We saw last week that Scotland have some older heads, especially in that front row and that tight five.
“They got stuck in against Argentina and got some good ball for them to play with. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.
“There are some guys in there who, like us, haven’t played a lot of Tests so I guess our job is to put pressure on them and not give the guys up the back a chance to get easy ball.”
The 13 changes aren’t just a second string side rocking up in Edinburgh’s capital. The All Blacks don’t have a second string, just more All Blacks.
Of the two starting sides, the All Blacks have more than 75 more caps, and they welcome back a centurion in Dan Carter, who makes his first start for 12 months.
“Yes there are a few changes, but the guys who have been given their chance are pretty excited,” McCaw said.
“Most of them have been in their stride most of the year so to see them get a chance means they’re excited, and I expect them to perform to a high standard. Hopefully that’s good enough.”