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.”

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

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

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map