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Time To Kick Into Gear, Demands Mccaw

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Richie McCaw
Richie McCaw

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

London, Nov 19 NZPA - Frustrated All Blacks rugby captain Richie McCaw has demanded his side finally nail England on Sunday (NZT) as they seek the top-drawer performance which has eluded them on tour.

On a day the All Blacks returned to a near full-strength side, and England recalled tough forwards Simon Shaw and Joe Worsley, McCaw admitted he was irked his team had not yet clicked.

Mostly hampered by slow starts, a theme of their 2009 season, the All Blacks have defended stoutly but struggled to put away Australia, Wales and Italy, who stayed in the contest longer than they should have.

While they have only conceded one try in three tests, the All Blacks have scored just four themselves with hookers Corey Flynn and Andrew Hore getting the solitary touchdowns in Milan and Cardiff, respectively, as the hosts successfully spoiled the tourists' attack.

"There has been a little bit (of frustration) in the games but as a whole we're still happy we got the right result. We're not far off and it'd be nice to nail those opportunities," McCaw said.

Amid four test defeats in 2009, the 32-6 victory against an underperforming Wallabies side in Wellington stands out like a beacon.

But they have not reproduced that dominance in recent weeks, with the Wales test a perfect example.

The tourists were denied three video referee calls, including what appeared a try to Conrad Smith, then had to defend desperately at Millennium Stadium to stop the hosts snatching an unlikely draw as they clung on 19-12.

"The Welsh were typical of the year really. We played some good rugby and gave ourselves chances," McCaw said.

"With a bit of luck we might have got some decisions, but you get down to the last 20 minutes and they're still in the game and you play a little more conservatively.

"That's the way the game goes so if you nail those opportunities the game might be different towards the end."

The weather may also play a role at Twickenham on Sunday, with forecasted wind and rain at Twickenham the last thing the expansive All Blacks want as Martin Johnson's England brace to take them on up front.

With the big match of the tour to follow against France, McCaw said decent victories in the next fortnight would leave him heading for a Christmas break a happy captain despite their struggles.

"If we get two good performances to finish the year off, I guess this part of the year we'd be happy with."

Having beaten England 32-6 here a year ago, a record scoreline in 17 visits to Twickenham, the under-pressure hosts provide a perfect opportunity.

Johnson yesterday recalled Shaw and Worsley, and handed French-based midfield back Ayoola Erinle a surprise debut against Ma'a Nonu.

It suggested a defence-minded approach based on a torrid forward battle.

The All Blacks will have their strongest side, bar young prop Owen Franks and winger Zac Guildford, who were recalled for rested pair Neemia Tialata and Cory Jane.

McCaw admitted the fierce criticism in the British press this week after England's 16-9 win over Argentina would "load their gun for them".

The All Blacks have won their last two visits here by a combined 45 points, but they just scraped home 23-19 during the 2005 Grand Slam tour, and lost their previous visit 28-31 in 2002.

"It's always pretty physical and traditionally they've taken their opportunities. Last year for 60 minutes of the game it was pretty tight, and in 2005 it could have gone either way.

"The experiences I've had here haven't been easy."


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