Rugby-Whatever the weather, we just have to play well - McCaw

Reuters

By Greg Stutchbury

NAPIER, New Zealand, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Rain, hail or typical Hawke's Bay sunshine, New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has told his team he wants an improved performance from his side when they meet Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

Some observers may consider McCaw's message strange given the All Blacks put Australia to the sword at Eden Park almost two weeks ago, running up a record 51-20 victory to retain the Bledisloe Cup.

The All Blacks were delighted with the scoreline and much of their performance in Auckland, but felt they had left points on the field against Australia and would need to improve when they faced the Pumas in Napier.

"We have to walk off the field having had our level of performance the same if not better than what we did last time," McCaw told reporters at McLean Park on Friday.

"There were things we didn't get right against the Aussies and we want to be better than that. That's certainly the only way we can judge it.

"Hopefully the scoreboard will reflect that."

NO ILLUSIONS

McCaw said the All Blacks had arrived in Napier last Sunday with their feet "firmly on the ground" and under no illusions as to the problems the Pumas would pose after they had two narrow losses to South Africa.

A powerful, combative pack would put pressure on the forwards at the set piece and breakdown, while Nicolas Sanchez would pull the strings at flyhalf and an exciting back three would try to run the ball back at every opportunity.

Weather forecasts have predicted rain for the match on Saturday, though intermittent showers had also been expected on Friday and both teams went through their final training runs in cool, overcast conditions with no sign of wet weather.

The All Blacks struggled in atrocious conditions in their 12-12 draw in their first Rugby Championship clash against the Wallabies in Sydney, but McCaw felt issues with their intensity had probably been a bigger factor in their performance than the weather.

"We didn't really adapt as well as we could have," he said of the Sydney match.

"As the game went on we probably got caught on our heels a little bit and stopped winning the contact and that can be applied in the dry or wet.

"I guess that gets magnified when it is a bit damp.

"What we learned in Sydney was our skills let us down and allowed the Aussies to put pressure on us."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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