McCaw shrugs off Henry role

2012-09-07 10:36

Wellington - Rugby World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry's involvement with Argentina will only lift the standard of the Rugby Championship, according to All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

Henry, who led New Zealand to World Cup triumph on home soil last year, was appointed as a technical advisor to the Pumas in March and has been involved in their preparations for their inaugural Rugby Championship campaign.

His former assistant Steve Hansen, who succeeded Henry in the All Blacks job, said he had slightly mixed feelings about his ex-boss taking the role with the Pumas but McCaw was not as perturbed as his coach.

"To be honest it doesn't really worry me," McCaw told reporters as a strong northerly wind whipped across the field at Wellington Regional Stadium on Friday, a day ahead of the Pumas' clash against New Zealand.

"If you took a step back from a purely New Zealand point of view, you want four teams that are hugely competitive and Argentina have already shown that.

"They probably should have won their last outing against South Africa (a 16-16 draw in Mendoza) and that makes for a good competition and shows that you just have to be on your job each week."

McCaw, who had a close relationship with Henry since he took over as captain from Tana Umaga after the 2005 grand slam tour, said he had met up with his former coach on Thursday.

"He gave me the full game plan so I'm pretty happy," he added while laughing.

McCaw was also not concerned that Henry had 'spilled the beans' on the All Blacks tactics, strengths or weaknesses, pointing out that video footage of their games were widely available and that analysis of teams was now standard.

"Well you watch last week's game and you pick up what you want anyway. It's always the way, you have an idea about what the opposition will do and the key is that you stop it.

"I've been in teams that know what the other team is going to do and there is nothing you can do to stop it."

ACCURACY, PATIENCE

The All Blacks have won their first two matches in the Rugby Championship with comfortable victories over Australia, but in both matches they wasted several try-scoring opportunities and both Hansen and McCaw said they had spoken about ensuring they improved their accuracy and patience against the Pumas.

"Sometimes holding on to it (the ball) for one extra phase can make the difference and I don't know whether that's the guys' overeagerness," McCaw added.

"It's just about calming down a little bit and making sure you see what's in front of you and make those decisions right.

"I think we were creating half chances and sometimes you just have to have that patience to make it a full chance. It does come down to the individuals but sometimes the whole team needs to get that instinct right."

The world champions also had a late blow with flyhalf Daniel Carter ruled out with a calf strain on Thursday after initially being named, with Aaron Cruden stepping in to start the match.

McCaw hinted that their preparation had not been effected with Cruden taking a greater role as Carter battled to ensure he was fit for the clash.

Last year's World Cup campaign when first Carter, Colin Slade, and then Cruden went down injured, prompting Stephen Donald to abandon his fishing holiday and join the team ahead of the final before he kicked the winning penalty, had also held them in good stead.

"You... realise that you have to get on with it," McCaw said of the lessons from the World Cup.

"We have been in that situation before and I'm sure Azza (Cruden) is ready to go.

"(He) has played well while filling in there and proved himself over the last wee while, so you just get on with it."

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