WELLINGTON - Keeping the penalty count down and avoiding basic mistakes will be crucial for the Canterbury Crusaders' hopes of winning the Super Rugby semi-final against the Wellington Hurricanes, according to former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.
The champion Crusaders host the Hurricanes in Christchurch on Saturday in an all-New Zealand clash, with the winner to face either South Africa's Lions or the Sydney-based New South Wales Waratahs in the August 4 final. McCaw, who retired from all rugby after leading the All Blacks to their third World Cup win in 2015, watched the Crusaders beat the Sharks 40-10 in the quarter-final and said the match had shown areas his old side must improve upon.
"It's the little mistakes and the back-to-back penalties you know that are allowing momentum to go against you," the former Crusaders skipper told TVNZ. "It can just be one or two things like that and you can go from being on the front foot to all of a sudden, with the guys the Hurricanes have got, being under pressure and it can cost you seven points.
"You saw that against the Sharks; the first 20 minutes was all Crusaders and then a couple of mistakes and it was back to an arm wrestle for a while. If they can keep those to a minimum, they've definitely got the skill, and with how they're doing things, they'll be good enough as well."
The 37-year-old McCaw retired after 148 test caps and more than 140 appearances for the Crusaders, where he won four Super Rugby titles. He said he still had a slight urge to get out on the field when watching them play.
"There's a little bit (of feeling) that sits there, but you get past that and I just enjoy seeing the guys carry on and keeping the Crusaders top of the list," the three times World Player of the Year said.