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McCaw: All Blacks must improve

Richie McCaw accepts New Zealand must improve if they are to complete a series victory over England in Dunedin on Saturday.

The All Blacks edged the first Test 20-15 with a 78th-minute try from Conrad Smith, safeguarding their 20-year winning sequence at Eden Park and completing a 15th successive victory.

England have players from Aviva Premiership finalists Northampton and Saracens available for the Forsyth Barr Stadium showdown and McCaw is braced for another ferocious assault.

"We got there in the end but we need to be a lot better going into the second Test because we expect England to be better," the New Zealand captain said.

"We got what we expected from England. It was pretty competitive around the breakdown and we expected the physicality they showed.

"We were a bit rusty in the first half. Test rugby is a step up in intensity and pace and it felt like we were half a yard off it.

"We started to get into the game in the second half and built a bit of pressure."

The match was ultimately settled by the quick thinking of Aaron Cruden, who declined a shot at goal in favour of a tap penalty and shortly after Smith crossed in the right corner.

McCaw backs Cruden's decision even though he was not consulted.

"I didn't say anything to Aaron, but I believe you have to back your boys to have a crack," he said.

"If they're always looking at me then they'll never take any opportunities. Guys have to be able to think for themselves.

"I was ready to point at the posts but he thought better of it and at the end of the day it paid off.

"If we'd kicked the goal we'd have been up by three but England would have had the chance to go for field position again."

England will make several changes for the second Test, but All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen expects more of the same at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

"They won't change how they play. Their gameplan might vary by one to two degrees, but basically we'll get what we got in the first Test," Hansen said.

"Maybe there will be one or two fresh faces, but then they may be very happy with what they have and keep the same players."


From Belfast Telegraph