Richie McCaw (Gallo Images)
London - All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw
pleaded guilty to a "dumb" moment which saw him sin-binned as the
world champions struggled to beat Argentina in their World Cup opener.
McCaw, the most capped player in Test
rugby, got a yellow card for tripping Argentina's Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe
half an hour into the game.
The Pumas took advantage of his 10 minutes
of exile of McCaw and later Conrad Smith to stamp their authority on the Pool C
"It was dumb," McCaw said of the
"It was a reflex thing. It wasn't the
right thing to do and we suffered because of it and put the team under
pressure, which you can't afford to do," the much respected captain said
The sentiment was shared by New Zealand
coach Steve Hansen who said: "The two yellow cards today were pretty dumb.
"Rich and Conrad know they were dumb
ones and sometimes in the heat of the moment you have a wee brain
explosion." Hansen backed referee Wayne Barnes in showing the yellow
New Zealand were for a few minutes down to
13 men when Smith was ordered off too. But the world champions eventually won
26-16 in the Wembley clash before a record 89 000 crowd.
From the spectators view, New Zealand had
some anxious moments. While they were short-handed Argentina moved to a 16-12
lead, threatening an upset win only a day after Japan had humiliated South
Some spectators booed the New Zealand
But McCaw said he had not been worried
about the scoreboard and insisted there was no panic in the ranks. The All
Blacks believed they would get on top of the Argentina pack and then the game
"So we had to change things, but we
had to make sure we didn't get all tense and worried about what might happen at
the end," McCaw said.
"We just wanted to focus on getting
that sorted and I thought for the most part of that second half we started to
win those contact areas. And when you start to do that you focus on what's happening
now rather that the scoreboard."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the
close encounter had been good for his side which was coming out of a month
break since their last game.
"There's no doubt we were rusty. There
was a lot of apprehension with every team that's played.
"I've watched most of the games over
the weekend and everyone's been probably half a step off the pace and that's
what comes with the World Cup, especially the first round."
Hansen paid tribute to scrum-half Aaron
Smith who re-ignited the All Blacks attack with a well-taken try in the second
half. His speed was a constant problem for Argentina throughout the game.
"He's probably one of the best
(scrum-halves) in the world. He scored a very timely try today."
Sam Cane also scored for the All Blacks
with Dan Carter landing two conversions and four penalties.
New Zealand next play Namibia on Thursday
which should be an easier ride.
For Argentina, Guido Petti scored a try
with Nicolas Sanchez kicking a conversion and three penalties.
Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade was
disappointed Argentina could not maintain their lead over the All Blacks.
"We were dominating and we had to stay
that way but it got to the point where they reacted. They took the ball and
never gave it up."