England v New Zealand: All Blacks steer clear of R-word but admit to increased 'edge'

 

Steve Hansen may have brushed it aside as the “silliest word in rugby” but there has undoubtedly been something in the air around the All Blacks this week.

If it looks like revenge, smells like revenge then it probably is revenge and Richie McCaw, New Zealand’s captain, admitted that yes, there is an extra frisson that will accompany them to Twickenham this afternoon.

A year ago McCaw could do nothing to stop England inflicting one of the blackest days in New Zealand rugby history. Alongside him on Saturday are a dozen of the beaten side – the wing Charles Piutau and centre Ben Smith are the additions – from their solitary defeat in 33 matches and the worst any of them had suffered in an All Black jersey. They have not lost since.

“There’s been a bit of an edge there as you can imagine,” said Dan Carter of his team’s preparations. “A few of us have got memories from last year so that adds a bit of edge. Last year we were a little bit flat perhaps.”

Earlier in the week a slogan was spotted scrawled across a whiteboard in the team room in the hotel. “This is,” it read, “about history – human nature.” And it is human nature to want, however you might dress it up, revenge.

“Yup, I hate [losing],” said McCaw, who has won more Tests than any player in history. Of his 122 caps, 108 have ended with him on the victorious side. “You compete in sport to win. When you don’t it hurts. The reality is some days it happens and the measure of how good you are is how you bounce back.”

There is another slogan popular around the All Black camp. Israel Dagg, who also admitted there is an “edge” to all this, and McCaw both trotted it out yesterday. “This is as good as it gets, against the English in a sold-out stadium,” said Dagg. “There is a bit of edge. There are a few nerves but we don’t want to play the game before it’s played.”

McCaw too spoke of not playing the contest out in your head before today comes, not letting what happened last year and the fact of Carter’s 100th cap – let’s do it for Dan, and all that – distract from the nuts and bolts of the task at hand.

“That’s hugely key,” said McCaw. “Over the years I’ve seen you can use history as a bit of extra motivation but once you get into the game it is not going to be the thing that gets you over the line. You have to stick to the process of what you are going to do. That’s preparing well and going out there and executing it. We all want to play well for Dan, but you do that by getting process right.”

McCaw and Carter are only half New Zealand’s 100 club. There is also Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu. This is a breathtakingly experienced side with 842 caps between them. England can muster only 314.

“The guys who have been around a while understand what it takes to perform,” said McCaw, who compared the sense of excitement and tension through the week to the build-up to the Rugby Championship decider in Johannesburg last month–a stunning contest won 38-27 by the All Blacks. “That’s what we are after. We know we are going to be in for a big battle.

We want to go out at Twickenham and perform. It is one of the toughest places to play. A few of us have been around the world and been through these experiences and that is where you want to test yourself.”

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower