Former World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw believes that England’s semi-final showing against the All Blacks was one of the best team performances he has ever seen.
In his column for the The Times, fellow former All Blacks flyhalf Andrew Merhtens revealed a post-game discussion between the pair regarding what went wrong for the defending world champions during the semi-final.
‘It is hard to see anybody beating England but the only team I could see staying with them are South Africa,’ wrote Merhtens.
‘New Zealand could at their best, but the Springboks’ size and physique mean that they can handle that side of the game. They will have to be immense, though, because that was the best England performance I have seen.
‘Richie McCaw said he thought it was the best performance he had seen from any team for a long time and he has been involved in a few himself – that is high praise.’
Merhtens added that he hoped the All Blacks’ shock loss was taken in good nature by Kiwi fans back home and that New Zealanders were able to accept that their team was beaten by a better side on the day.
‘Teams celebrate beating the All Blacks more than any other team but this tournament is not just about them.
‘Amid all this we should not underestimate the tactical nous of Eddie Jones either. England identified when New Zealand weren’t going to use their front-runners and throw the ball out back. England got a read on the All Blacks and then kept hitting redial.
‘It was a great effort by them. No excuses. I hope that at home in New Zealand we can accept that and just say, “Jeez, England — too bloody good.”’
Photo: EPA/Franck Robichon/BackpagePix