Rugby World Cup

Legends' retirement does not affect final

New Zealand's flanker and captain Richie McCaw (left) and fly-half Dan Carter (right) attend a training session at Penny Hill Park in Bagshot, south-east England, on Oct 27, 2015, during the Rugby World Cup 2015.
New Zealand's flanker and captain Richie McCaw (left) and fly-half Dan Carter (right) attend a training session at Penny Hill Park in Bagshot, south-east England, on Oct 27, 2015, during the Rugby World Cup 2015.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • The looming retirement from Test rugby of greats Richie McCaw and Dan Carter will not figure in the All Blacks' preparation for Saturday's World Cup final against Australia.

A World Cup victory would be a fitting farewell for the record-setting McCaw and Carter who between them have played 258 Tests.

But assistant coach Ian Foster insists the emotions would be blocked out until after the final whistle at Twickenham.

"We've got a World Cup final on Saturday and nothing else really matters apart from us preparing well," he said.

"This is the moment and there'll be plenty of time afterwards to talk about people but we don't want to waste this opportunity. We're putting everything we can into doing the only thing we can do which is to prepare well day by day."

Carter, the top points scorer in Test rugby who will join Racing 92 in France after the World Cup, said before the All Blacks beat South Africa 20-18 in the semi-final that his focus was solely on the team.

McCaw, the most capped player in Test history and three-time world player of the year, has refused to discuss retirement although he indicated early this year he would bow out after the World Cup.

New Zealand and Australia have played each other twice this year with a win each. Both favour fast-running free-flowing rugby.

The All Blacks have started video analysis of how Australia beat Argentina 29-15 in their semi-final on Sunday to detect any adjustments to their regular pattern.

Particular attention has been paid to Wallabies' twin scavengers Michael Hooper and David Pocock, who gave New Zealand a torrid time at the breakdown in Sydney this year when Australia beat the All Blacks 27-19.

A week later, with only one of the duo on the field - Pocock came off the bench to replace Hooper at half-time - the All Blacks triumphed 41-13 at Eden Park.

"It reaffirms they've got some good players, that's why they are in the final," Foster said. "The lessons we have learnt from Sydney and Eden Park we've already applied in our game and put into practice."

The All Blacks head towards Saturday's final with all players fit.

They will be playing their neighbours for the third time this year in a world final. Australia have already bagged the cricket and netball titles, leaving New Zealanders hoping it will be third time lucky.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE,

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2015, with the headline 'Legends' retirement does not affect final'. Print Edition | Subscribe