Rugby: All Blacks captain McCaw pins self-belief on phenomenal winning season

DUBLIN (AFP) - New Zealand coming back twice from seemingly impossible positions in Tests to become the first team in the professional era to win all their Test matches in a calendar year stems from something former All Blacks captain Todd Blackadder once told present incumbent Richie McCaw.

McCaw, who captained New Zealand to the 2011 World Cup trophy on home soil with an 8-7 win over France, revealed this rare insight moments after his side had ensured their place in history with the last kick of an epic Test with rank outsiders Ireland at Lansdowne Road.

Aaron Cruden converted a Ryan Crotty try to win the match 24-22 and complete a remarkable comeback from trailing 7-22 at half-time.

McCaw said this win and the one over South Africa - they were trailing 24-27 in the second-half and had a man down but turned the game around by scoring two tries - to retain the Four Nations Championship in early October were examples of taking Blackadder's words to heart.

"With this side, it comes down to self-belief," said McCaw.

"I remember when I was a young player and Canterbury were down by a large margin in a Ranfurly Shield game and the skipper Todd Blackadder (who captained the All Blacks 14 times in the late 1990s) turned to us and said this isn't a lost cause, this is winnable.

"He was right too. We had 15 guys out there believing till the end that day and we had the same against South Africa and Ireland because, as captain, if I let my head drop, then theirs will as well."