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Richie McCaw puts team performance before personal milestones

By Andrew Baldock

Richie McCaw says he will be fully focused on team performance when he captains New Zealand for the 100th time in Tests today.

McCaw's remarkable feat comes 10 years after he made his debut as All Blacks skipper - also against Wales in Cardiff - and further cements his status among rugby union's all-time greats.

"I am excited about playing," said McCaw. "The milestones and all that personal stuff comes well second to the team performing.

"That's all I want, and the best way to celebrate that will be if the team go well and we have a good performance and win.

"It is our last crack for the year. Our (recent) performances, while they have been okay, we would like to finish off by really putting a performance together.

"That has been our sole focus, and if we get that right I will be satisfied. We have got to make sure we put it out there from the word go. If we give them (Wales) space and time on the ball, especially out wide, they are dangerous. It's the old story that it starts from numbers one to five, which will be a big battle in itself."

Reflecting on the 2004 Millennium Stadium clash, which New Zealand edged 26-25, McCaw added: "I was pretty nervous leading into that one, I tell you.

"I led a pretty young side that day and it was pretty tight towards the end of the game.

"I just remember being hugely proud to get the chance to do it and honoured, and relieved that we came away with the win.

"Ten years ago was the first time I got to play here and got to understand what playing in Cardiff is all about.

"The fact you are playing at the Millennium Stadium in front of 75,000, that's motivation in itself. I just can't wait. They are the days you grew up to want to play in."

Belfast Telegraph

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