After years of talk and what feels like eons of build-up, All Black skipper Richie McCaw is ready to mount another challenge for the World Cup title.
New Zealand get the 2011 World Cup underway on Friday when they face Tonga in Auckland, it’s a long-awaited moment and McCaw admits it’s one that players dream of.
“It is a stage where everyone is at their peak, and you have got to be if you want success,” said the flanker.
“That is what motivates me - to test yourself in the toughest environment. And, when you do that and succeed, that is when you can be satisfied.
“A World Cup is the biggest stage, and you want to prove yourself.”
The All Blacks enter the competition as favourites, despite failing to win the recent Tri-Nations where they lost out to Australia. It may be a good omen, though, with the Kiwis having won the 2003 and 2007 editions of the southern hemisphere tournament only to implode at the World Cups that followed.
Regardless, McCaw insists that form counts for little in a competition like the World Cup.
“History has shown that what has happened previously - good or bad - means nothing come kick-off,” he asserted.
The home side are expected to register a convincing win over Tonga but All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith insists that the side are in no way complacent heading into the game.
“There is no complacency in this group,” said Smith.
“We are very aware of what they (Tonga) pose. They have got some of the biggest runners in world rugby.
“You don’t want a soft pool, and we haven’t got one.
“I think they will test us physically and they will test us with their athleticism. They are all good rugby players.”