Adversity has strengthened team's resolve - McCaw
Successive World Cup setbacks have strengthened the resolve and desire of an experienced All Blacks'...
Successive World Cup setbacks have strengthened the resolve and desire of an experienced All Blacks' side who meet France in Sunday's final at Eden Park, captain Richie McCaw said on Saturday.
Speaking in public for the last time before the All Blacks attempt to win only their second World Cup against the opponents they defeated in the 1987 final, McCaw expressed the steely determination which has marked New Zealand's campaign.
"A lot of guys have come through experiences that haven't been too flash," he told a news conference. "It just hardens your resolve and your desire.
"For my part, in 2003 I didn't understand what it took to win a World Cup, I probably didn't fully understand the game in 2007.
"To win it you have to be the best team in the tournament, regardless of what went on beforehand. You have got to produce the goods when it counts and I think a lot of the guys that have been around for a while understand that.
"There is absolutely no guarantee, that's what keeps the guys pretty much focused. You know the guys who have been around for a while will know it's their last chance to make the most of it."
McCaw, 30, said he did not think winning the World Cup would necessarily define his career.
"It has got a bearing on what you have done, but I like to think that what you have done through 10 years means something, regardless of what happens tomorrow," he said.
"But this is the biggest game that I have ever played."
McCaw was the captain four years ago when the All Blacks made their earliest departure from a World Cup, losing 20-18 to the French in Cardiff. He said he had since learned more about his role as team leader.
"I think you back yourself a little bit more," he said.
"Going through experiences like 2007, I think 2009 was a bit of a challenge, we lost a few there. You start to understand what you have got to do in these situations.
"You find out a bit about yourself, you look at ways you can keep improving and you can get better. I think that just backing yourself and having good people.
"I have got good men in this team who have been around a long time.
"I think being captain of the All Blacks is a huge honour, there's a lot of responsibility that comes with it. The expectation is that you set the standards that have been forged over a long period of time.
"I won't be around for ever but hopefully when I leave people will say that all the history that has gone before and the standards that have been set have been upheld."