Richie McCaw says the time for excuses is over as the All Blacks prepare to face Georgia at the World Cup tonight

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw says it’s time to step things up against Georgia

Richie McCaw says the time for excuses is over as the All Blacks prepare to face Georgia at the World Cup

Richie McCaw wasn’t buying all the warm-fuzzies about the All Blacks form.

In fact, the All Blacks captain made it clear the defending champions haven’t been up to scratch during their first two matches at the Rugby World Cup.

Just three minor niggles, envious depth, and the return of star wing Waisake Naholo has had most pundits placing the All Blacks in pole position as their rivals get battered and bruised in big matches.

Richie McCaw says the All Blacks need to step up their physicality and skill execution against Georgia in Cardiff.

McCaw sees it a little differently ahead of the All Blacks’ third Pool C match against Georgia in Cardiff where he’s made it clear he’s tired of hearing reasons why the team has not put a complete performance on the park.

“Performance wise we need to take a step up … we’ve all had a run in the first two games and now there are no excuses for not being ready to go,” the openside said on Friday. “When you haven’t played for a while there is always a little bit of rustiness … Last week against Namibia the guys were trying hard, but just making crucial mistakes. As the tournament goes on we can’t afford to let that happen.”

Physicality and skill execution have been the focal points since the All Blacks arrived in Wales with the former lacking against the Pumas and the latter against Namibia.

“If I look at the first half of the Argentinian game we perhaps didn’t get that [physicality] as good as we could have. We came right in the second half and it was OK against Namibia, but it’s got to be a step up now,” McCaw said.

“I look at that last 20 minutes when I was on the field against Namibia and yep, not much rugby happened, but we didn’t help ourselves by making mistakes. So we went to set piece fairly regularly and that allows the game to slow down. We don’t make as many mistakes when we get the ball and actually look after it, that will make a big difference.”

Richie McCaw

• Age: 34

• Born: Oamaru

• Position: Loose forward

• Super team: Crusaders

• Test debut: v Ireland, 2001

McCaw’s message appears to have got through and he said there was “a bit of an edge” during some physical training sessions, one which saw second five-eighth Ma’a Nonu ruled out of the match with a shoulder injury.

The All Blacks are expecting their third match to be particularly physical.

“The bits I’ve seen of the Georgians they are pretty big men. They love the contact area and that’s the key to winning test matches is getting that right. Whether it be breakdown, carrying the ball, or defence, they’re the areas you need to get right.”

Asked if the All Blacks were happy to be flying under the radar in Pool C, McCaw scotched suggestions it would be any advantage by the time the quarterfinals rolled around.

“It is what it is. Maybe from the outside people looking at the tournament might think that [it’s helping us]. From our point of view whatever our situation we have to perform well.

“We need to be performing at the business end of the tournament and no-one will be flying under the radar then. I can see why you guys say that from the outside, but for us we realise we just have to keep improving.”

Assistant coach Ian Foster believed the squad had greater clarity three weeks into the tournament and had made some important adjustments after their opening two matches.

“We had the four-day turnaround from Argentina-Namibia so there was a bit of catching your breath after those games,” he said. “It’s been good to have a bit of time. We’ve had a couple extra training sessions and it’s been a chance to take the learnings from the first two games.

– Stuff

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