England

All Blacks sidestep Suzie

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 22:13
Richie-mccaw-presser-630 Richie-mccaw-balls-630 Richie-mccaw-arms-out-630
It shouldn't affect us at all
Quote-end

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw says his players will be fighting fit to face England on Saturday, despite a virus having struck the All Blacks squad.

Several players were laid low by vomiting and diarrhoea prior to last weekend's 33-10 win over Wales and the virus had spread to 30 members of the 32-man squad by the middle of this week.

However, those who fell ill are now on the road to recovery and McCaw says it will not put them off their stride at Twickenham.

"The guys are coming right now. By yesterday [Thursday] most of us were feeling pretty good, bar a couple," he said on Friday.

"I had a bit of it myself but I feel pretty good today [Friday]. It knocked the stuffing out of a few of the guys.

"For a day or so the boys didn't have a lot to eat and were a little ginger yesterday [Thursday].

"From what I've seen and from myself, we're eating normally and energy levels are back up. Hopefully it won't take too much out of us.

"I know running round yesterday wasn't too bad considering and I feel a heap better today [Friday]. It shouldn't affect us at all tomorrow [Saturday]."

* It was similar to a stomach bug that laid low the All Blacks ahead of the 1995 World Cup Final. Suzie is the name of a  bogus waitress that  ostensibly 'poisoned' the All Blacks in '95. Most of the squad suffered some form of food poising in the lead-up to the Final, but it was never proven if it was related to their outing to a local seafood establishment or actually something they ate in the team hotel. The waitress, first mentioned in coach Laurie Mains biography, was never found and never worked at the team's hotel.

Meanwhile, McCaw has expressed solidarity with his England counterpart Chris Robshaw, who came in for criticism over his strategic decisions in the recent defeats by Australia and South Africa.

More worryingly for Robshaw, British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has even questioned his ability to play as an openside flanker, but McCaw feels the 26-year-old is the right man for both the captaincy and the number seven shirt.

"The best way to learn as a captain is to go through those experiences," the Crusaders flanker said.

"There's no doubt he'll be better off having been through tight matches. I've had that myself over the years.

"The key to leading is being able to make the right decisions when it counts. But the right decision is not clear all the time, so to say something was right or wrong -- it's easy in hindsight.

"The best way to learn is on the job. I feel he'll have learnt along the way.

"He's playing particularly well. People ask if seven's the right position for him, but these days you pick the right mix of loose forwards for your team.

"You must have a bit of everything, rather than be an out-and-out six, seven or eight. If you can have a mix of players who can do all the jobs, then that's best for the team.

"That's obviously how their back row is working. I've been pretty impressed with the way he's gone."

New Zealand are bidding for a 10th consecutive victory over England on Saturday, while a win would also see them finish the year 2012 undefeated.

AFP

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