Auckland – New Zealand's World Cup victory last year is now in the history books but the All Blacks are focused on getting even better as they look to build towards the defence of the title in 2015, according to captain Richie McCaw.
The All Blacks won their second Webb Ellis trophy at Eden Park last October and return to the scene of the triumph for the first time on Saturday (9.35am SA time) in the opening game of a three-Test series against Ireland.
“From the experiences we have been through last year, you just have to use them to your advantage,” McCaw told reporters on Friday. “If we're not trying to be better then we may as well do something else and that is the attitude I am seeing.
“Those guys (who won the World Cup) are loving being back here and want to be better at it, and tomorrow is the best place to start.”
The All Blacks also start a under new regime on Saturday with Steve Hansen moving into the hot seat as head coach, and while the former policeman had brought new ideas to the side, McCaw said the structures were still similar to when he was Graham Henry's assistant.
“He has got a slightly different way of doing things, but a lot is the same and I think that has made it easy to get it going this week,” McCaw said.
“A lot of the structures have been tried through a few years and refined and are fairly similar now.
“The great thing about Steve is that he allows, especially the senior boys, he puts the onus on us to drive the bus. That has always been his strength.”
Ireland, who finished third in the 2012 Six Nations, also have “fond memories” of Eden Park having beaten Australia 15-6 in the World Cup pool stage last year, though hooker Rory Best was adamant the side had also moved on since then.
“I certainly have fond memories of nine months ago so it's nice to be back,” Best said after the Ireland side's final training run at the venue.
“It was no great surprise to us that we won that game (against the Wallabies). It was thrown around as a massive upset, but we went into that game massively confident
“But we're obviously well aware it's a different tournament, a long time ago, different team.
“It has no bearing (on Saturday's game).”
Ireland have yet to beat the All Blacks in 24 previous encounters stretching back to 1905 and Best said given the confidence of the team it remained a puzzling statistic.
“It's a strange one from an Irish point of view that they're the only team we haven't beaten,” Best said.
“We see ourselves as a very good team (who) believes they can beat anyone.
“We firmly believe we can win. We know it's going to be tough and if we will get limited chances, we have to take 90 percent of them and then limit the chances the All Blacks have.” – Reuters