All Blacks belief kept New Zealand in with a chance against Ireland despite 19-point deficit claims captain Richie McCaw

The Kiwis staged a miraculous comeback to steal the win with the final play of the game thanks to a Ryan Crotty try which was converted by Aaron Cruden

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has revealed a compelling insight into the anatomy of the All Blacks' iron will to win.

The 32-year-old never truly feared losing to Ireland in Dublin on Sunday, even after leaking three tries in the opening 17 minutes.

Openside flanker McCaw said New Zealand's unshakeable self-belief carried them to their 14th victory of 2014 - securing the perfect season.

Ryan Crotty's overtime try and Aaron Cruden's conversion stole a 24-22 win, to stamp New Zealand's place in history as the first professional-era team to record a 100 per cent campaign.

McCaw said a last-gasp Ranfurly Shield Challenge victory for Canterbury over Wellington in 2001 helped mould his champion attitude.

At 29-12 down that day 12 years ago, McCaw told skipper Todd Blackadder Canterbury could not launch a comeback. The nonplussed lock gave McCaw short shrift, and Canterbury sneaked to 31-29 victory thanks to Ben Blair's overtime try and conversion.

That lesson came to the front of McCaw's mind as New Zealand battled for their place in the record books at the Aviva Stadium.

"When I was a young player and first started in the provincial game our captain taught me something pretty important," he said.

"We were down by a similar margin, 29 to very little.

"I thought the game was over and he said 'believe', and we got home in that game.

"Since then I've never, ever given up, and always been proud of All Blacks teams, that no matter whether you're behind, seemingly out of the game, you never stop believing there's a chance.

"We had 15 guys out there believing, right to the last minute, and it's amazing what can happen.

"For me as captain, as soon as I drop my head, what are the other boys going to do? You've got to remember while there's still time, there's still a chance."

If the All Blacks' great Dublin escape was the tightest spot they squirmed through this season, their superlative 38-27 victory over South Africa in Johannesburg in the Rugby Championship in October proved another example of mind over matter.

Every time South Africa raised the stakes, New Zealand trumped their free-scoring hosts.

Bryan Habana blasted a two-minute try double, only to limp off with hamstring trouble well before half-time.

The Springboks conjured four tries in all, to register the bonus point.

So New Zealand just racked up five; their final score for Kieran Read coming with prop Ben Franks in the sin-bin.

McCaw rarely drops his steely focus, but, after carving his side's name into the sport's annals at the weekend, he was able to bask in the fully deserved afterglow.

He said: "I think with this result and the one against South Africa, we've shown again that desire and belief that we just never let drop.

"It's hard to let yourself reflect most of the time, but over the next few weeks I'm sure that's what people will do now."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
ESPN footage showed a split-screen Murray’s partner Kim Sears and Berdych’s partner Ester Satorova 'sporting' their jewellery
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee