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Richie McCaw urges New Zealand to cut out errors against Georgia

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw wants the world champions to "take a step up" when they tackle Millennium Stadium opponents Georgia on Friday.

The unbeaten Pool C leaders have seen off Argentina and Namibia so far, and there appears to be little that can stop their march back to Cardiff later this month for a probable quarter-final appointment with Ireland or France.

"Performance-wise, we need to take a step up," McCaw said.

"We have all had a run in the first two games, so there are no excuses for not being ready to go.

"There has been a bit of an edge this week in terms of putting right the things that were a little bit off in those opening two games. If we get them right, we will hopefully get a good performance.

"When you haven't played for a while there is always a bit of rustiness.

"You don't like to use it as an excuse but I think that was what let us down last week against Namibia. The guys were trying hard but were making some crucial mistakes. You can't afford to let that happen."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made 10 changes for Friday's clash, which sees New Zealand playing against Georgia for the first time.

"I don't think you need to be playing against a new side like Georgia to keep you fresh," McCaw added.

"The fact that we are going into the third game of the World Cup means there is a bit of an edge there, regardless of who the opposition is.

"We understand who we are up against, but the main focus is about us getting our game spot-on. The excitement we have got from that is enough.

"Still, playing against a side like Namibia or Georgia is something different, and add to that the Millennium Stadium and it's pretty exciting. We are certainly looking forward to it."

Georgia opened their World Cup campaign with victory over Tonga, and with Namibia remaining on their fixture schedule after New Zealand, a third-placed finish in the pool remains a realistic possibility, which would be accompanied by automatic World Cup 2019 qualification.

"We've made several changes to the starting line-up, purely because for the first and second game we used the same players, so these guys are fresh," Georgia head coach Milton Haig said.

"They haven't played any time, or very little time, at the World Cup and we are looking for a bit of energy against the All Blacks.

"We think with the depth that we've got in the squad it's a good chance for these players.

"We had a plan a year ago in terms of selecting this squad and what our ultimate goal is at this tournament, and Namibia is very important to achieve that goal of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup, so it's a necessary evil that our focus is on the Namibia game."


From Belfast Telegraph