All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw expects swift improvement against Argentina

The All Blacks had their captain’s run at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium on Thursday ahead of Friday’s test with Argentina.

Richie McCaw wasn’t required to fire some verbal shots at his men after their sloppy display in Apia last week.

The All Blacks may have survived the onslaught from plucky Samoa at Apia Park, winning 25-16, but captain McCaw said he and his team-mates knew that performance wasn’t something to remember with any fondness.

Speaking at the All Blacks captain’s run before the Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium on Friday night, McCaw said there was little point issuing stern words when the players were aware they had failed to play anywhere near the level expected.

Richie McCaw is set to play his final match in Christchurch against Argentina at AMI Stadium on Friday night.

“I didn’t need to say too much. Most of the boys that were out there realised that standard going forward isn’t going to be good enough but you can’t get yourself in too much of a hole over it,” McCaw said.

“There’s probably some reasons for it. The key is to get some learnings from it and make sure that the things we got wrong, we don’t this week.

“That’s what being in this team is all about -learning fast, and we have to make sure we do that. The expectation is that we improve.”

A combination of heat, players lacking game time and unfamiliar combinations could be used as excuses for that scrape against Samoa, but the All Blacks know that with just four matches to be played before the World Cup they need to quickly make some amendments to their game.

Reducing their error rate and being more dominant in the pack, whether it is muscling-up in the set pieces or creating a clear passage for recycled ball on the floor, will be a priority against Argentina.

“The heart of the Argentinian team is getting their set-piece right and they are big men,” McCaw reiterated. “The last couple of years it has been a big challenge for the men up front and our boys are well aware of that. So there is a wee bit of edge there from ours and hopefully we are better than what they bring.

“The learnings we got from that first hit-out, hopefully we have fixed that. I would like to think it is going to be better, absolutely. In that first week a few of us hadn’t played for a bit and coming back in we were thinking a bit much rather than just playing. Hopefully having an extra week will help that and the boys can do the job well.”

This test will be McCaw’s final outing in Christchurch. Although he has yet to officially confirm his retirement, he is expected to withdraw from all forms of the game following the World Cup.

The emotion of performing in front of his “home” crowd would likely kick in later. His immediate priority was to focus on ensuring the All Blacks’ unbeaten record against the Pumas remains intact.

“I want to make sure from a personal and team point of view that we play well. That’s the bit where you get a smile on your face afterwards. That is about as far as I have thought.


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