Tuesday 16 January 2018

Carter injury a setback we can cope with – McCaw

Richie McCaw’s all-conquering All Blacks have yet to lose a game in 2013
Richie McCaw’s all-conquering All Blacks have yet to lose a game in 2013
David Kelly

David Kelly

As beleaguered Ireland anxiously prepare for an unlikely assault on a miserable winless record against the All Blacks without their out-half Johnny Sexton, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is confident that his side can cope without their pivot.

Dan Carter failed to complete his 100th appearance for his country at Twickenham last weekend for the Kiwis, who have yet to lose a game in 2013, but they have a competent replacement in Aaron Cruden, who has already compiled 27 caps in just three years.

McCaw is convinced that his side can handle their star playmaker's absence.

"We're going to have to cope without Dan Carter aren't we?" he said at the IRB's official World Cup handover ceremony in the Aviva Stadium last night.

STRENGTH

"It's disappointing for him to come up short with injury, but that's the strength of our team, we've dealt with this sort of stuff before and we'll have to do so again."

McCaw is also unfazed by the familiar prospect of skippering a side on the brink of history – this time in the quest to become the first team of the professional age to win every one of their games in a calendar year.

"Everyone knows about the things that are at stake. There'll be a bit of extra excitement and edge," he said.

"For those of us who have been around a while, we know that the games where we haven't performed have been something to do with the mindset or attitude in terms of preparation, so that's what we have to get right."

McCaw admits that mental frailty was the source of their sole defeat in 34 games, a loss to England in Twickenham in 2012. They avenged that result last weekend and, despite Ireland's tame submission to Australia and the memory of their shocking 60-0 defeat in Hamilton the last time these sides met, McCaw is wary of the wounded hosts.

"You learn from those performances," he said. "We were probably off the pace mentally a year ago. We maybe went into that week thinking it was coming to the end of the year and dropped off in training a bit. Early in the second half we were back in the game and probably on top and then we went and made two or three mistakes. It was unlike us but that indicated that we were off the pace mentally.

"So the senior boys and coaches have got to set that standard this week.

"As far as Ireland are concerned, we'll expect a team that has a chance to turn things around from what happened a couple of days ago. If you look back to last year in New Zealand, you can see the difference between one week and the next, what it can be.

"Their preparation was probably different, like us, and that's where you can get a huge swing in terms of performance. We're expecting an Ireland team to turn up and play particularly well."

Meanwhile, IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset paid tribute to Ronnnie Dawson at last night's induction of 11 Hall of Fame winners, which also included Australians David Campese, Mark Ella and George Gregan and Scot Gavin Hastings.

In 1959, Leinster and Ireland hooker Dawson captained the Lions in six Tests despite his relative inexperience in international rugby – a record only matched by Martin Johnson.

He was unavailable as a player for the 1962 Lions tour to South Africa but was assistant manager/coach in 1968 for the tour to face the Springboks and was also a selector.

Dawson utilised the managerial skills gleaned on his Lions tours to go on and become one of the game's most potent administrators. He won 27 caps in a career spanning seven years from 1958-65.

"The Lions are an institution, a symbol of our history, our present and our future and tours to Australia have delivered bountiful unforgettable memories," said Lapasset.

"Men like Dawson have stamped their own mark on this incredible piece of rugby history."

Irish Independent

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