Richie McCaw says the All Blacks expected to excel in the 2015 World Cup final and that this triumph was more satisfying than the last, reports JON CARDINELLI in London.
The All Blacks captain and coach received a warm round of applause on their arrival at the post-match press conference on Saturday. New Zealand beat Australia 34-17 on Saturday to win the 2015 World Cup. The result marked their second-consecutive global title, and their third overall.
‘We arrived here with a job to do, and afterwards, there was a sense of “job done”,’ said McCaw. ‘It’s different to rocking up and hoping you can win. We expected to come here and be at our best. If the opponents were better than that, then well done to them. But we always had that belief, and it aided us in the second half.'
McCaw revealed that the experience of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup on Saturday was very different to that of four years ago. New Zealand went into the 2011 World Cup with a point to prove. When they scrapped to an 8-7 win over France in the final, McCaw and his team-mates felt they had ticked a box rather than achieved something special.
‘There is a big difference between 2011 and 2015,' he said. ‘Four years ago, the final was a lot tighter. There was a feeling of relief when we won, and some of that had to do with all our history [of falling short] at past tournaments.
‘This time, we didn’t feel as if we had to win it. We felt there was a great opportunity there for the taking. On both occasions, we felt joy, but there was a different edge to it this time.’
McCaw heaped praise on the All Blacks coaches and management staff. The win in the 2015 World Cup final represented the culmination of four years’ planning and preparation. It is some statement considering the All Blacks managed to win three Rugby Championships, and 93% of their overall games, in the period between World Cups. Complacency was never an issue.
‘Steve has led the way with his attitude and standards, and made it easy for the rest of us to follow,' said McCaw. 'We could have stuck to the same standard in 2012, but we decided that we wanted to earn our right to be called champions every year.
‘About 12 months ago, we spoke about what we wanted to achieve at the 2015 World Cup. We were all driven by a relentless desire to take this team to another level and add to the legacy of the All Blacks. It wasn’t just the players, it was the entire management team.’
Hansen confirmed that the system in New Zealand played a big role in their success.
‘This success is not down to any one person,’ said the All Blacks coach. ‘There was a whole group of us who contributed, and we are well supported by our rugby union back home. Our franchises helped us get here and do what we do. It’s massively satisfying to see it all coming to fruition.
‘In 2012, we looked to rebuild the team. We wanted to come to the 2015 World Cup with the right experienced players, as well as some younger players with experience. It’s great to see that we’ve developed a big group of youngsters who have between 20 and 40 caps. They can now take us forward after a few of the older guys retire.’
McCaw has played his last Test for the All Blacks, as has Dan Carter. Hansen wouldn’t comment on whether this New Zealand side was the greatest in history, but he did single out McCaw and Carter as the greatest All Black.
‘Richie is the greatest All Black, and Dan is a close second,’ he said. ‘The only thing that separates them is that one’s a flanker.
'To play 148 Tests at flank is unheard of. He’s put his body on the line in every one of those matches. A lot was said about the loose trio before the game, and I reckon our loose trio won that battle on the day.’
Meanwhile, losing coach Michael Cheika said that the All Blacks were not unbeatable. Cheika feels that the Wallabies will push the All Blacks close in the coming years, and that the other teams in the Rugby Championship, the Springboks and Argentina, would be forced to lift their standards.
‘We’re lucky that we get to test ourselves against them regularly in the Rugby Championship,’ said Cheika. ‘We’ve made up some ground over the past 12 months, and now we need to keep on growing.
‘I told the players before the tournament that they shouldn’t be counting down as if this tournament marks the end of something. It is just the beginning. We hope to do some good things for Australian rugby in future.’
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images