Richie McCaw spent a lifetime hunting down opponents and tormenting at the breakdown. So if one person is going to have a worthwhile opinion on ‘that’ Owen Farrell tackle it’s him.
So when asked by RugbyPass about Farrell’s no-arms tackle on Andre Esterhuizen, and what his reaction would be if something similar happens this weekend against the All Blacks, McCaw made a surprising admission.
“To be honest, I’ve read about it, but I haven’t actually seen it! So I’m probably commenting on it a little bit blind on it.” he said.
But McCaw did at least call for clarity from rugby’s rule makers when to comes to sanctions.
“Without being too much around this actual tackle, the one thing I would sort of pick up is – that you want to be able to know that if you do something wrong or do something, that you know that is definitely going to be punished by this amount or whatever, or it’s not going to be, but that it’s consistent.
“That’s what some people, from what I’ve read say, is that one week you could end up getting a suspension but another week you don’t. I think that’s the big thing that’s always the frustrating part – when you don’t know.
“You just want consistency I suppose.”
The All Blacks face England and Ireland on consecutive Saturday’s. Ireland are second in the World Rugby rankings, behind New Zealand, and McCaw is looking forward to seeing All Blacks tested over the coming weeks to see what shape they’re in with a World Cup on the horizon.
“I think there’s a huge amount of anticipation for it (against Ireland). I think for these two weeks, because the All Blacks haven’t played England for quite a while either, I think there’s great anticipation around that for this weekend and then to back it up against the Six Nations champions and the second best side in the world, which they are, it makes for a pretty good couple of weeks of rugby.
“I think these three weeks and you look at the World Cup next year and it won’t tell you who should do what next year but it gives you a better indication of where teams are at and from an All Blacks point of view, a couple of weeks after the Rugby Championship, the performances are okay but I know they see this as a pretty important run of fixtures leading into next year.
Ireland claimed a first-ever win over the All Blacks in Chicago in 2016, with a 40-29 success and McCaw feels that match still hangs over them.
“I think what happened a couple of years ago at the Chicago game with the All Blacks being beaten has kept them on edge, which should be great.
Ireland scrum half Conor Murray has been ruled out for the game on November 17th, but All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has already mused as to whether it’s “an Irish trick”. Murray has subsequently spent some time in the Ireland camp as he continues his rehabilitation and despite having no game-time since June, McCaw feels the Munsterman would be ready if he’s thrown in.
“I think he’s hugely important. A good player like him, when you have got a good team around you that are pushing you to play, he’ll know how to fit himself in and perform and do his job. I’ve got no doubt about that.
“The confidence of others around him will make him want to play and that’s pretty invaluable for the team. I’ve been in a couple of those situations and if you’re good to go, you put him in there, but yeah I just think on the Lions tour he had a big impact last year.
“I’ve no doubt he’s has a big influence over the Irish team and how they go.
McCaw also gave his thoughts on the impact of Ronan O’Gara at the Crusaders since he joined the coaching staff under Scott Robertson.
“I think firstly you’ve got to take your hat off to Ronan for making the decision to go and try something completely different. He obviously had a long way to go to come to Christchurch and usually you’d have Kiwis coming up to this part of the world but he’s obviously a top bloke and he’s fitted in extremely well from what I’ve heard at the Crusaders.
“It would have taken him a while to find his feet, but from what I hear from Scott Robertson and a couple of the players is that his input has been spot on and invaluable.
“He joined a set-up that managed to defend the title in Super Rugby, so it’s not a bad one to have on your resume is it?”
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