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Kaplan loves his All Blacks tests

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NZPA     25 Jun 2010     Getty Images

When he blows fulltime on the second test at Waikato Stadium he will complete his 17th in charge of the All Blacks, the most by any official with any team in the history of tests.

Already the world's most "capped" ref with 55 tests, Kaplan confessed he was conscious of the milestone which would take him clear of Welsh whistler Derek Bevan's 16 tests with the All Blacks from 1986-99, a figure matched by New Zealander Paul Honiss with the Wallabies.

"I'm very aware of it," Kaplan told NZPA today.

"Obviously being involved in any test match is special. I wouldn't want to put one over any other although this will mean something on a personal level."

Kaplan has taken elements of several former referees to mould his own style. He enjoyed the player management of Australian Kerry Fitzgerald, the dedication of Honiss and the signals of New Zealand's Colin Hawke.

"I didn't have any superheroes or anything but I admired Derek Beven for his longevity. The 1999 World Cup was his last tournament and it was my first World Cup. He was a guy who had a lot of respect."

His most memorable test was his first involving the All Blacks, the Bledisloe Cup test won 24-23 when Australian captain John Eales landed a last-minute penalty in Wellington. Kaplan had bottles and cans hurled at him as he left the ground, giving him an early taste of the criticism that is a constant companion for most top-level refs.

"I'm not a referee who worries about train smashes. Like anyone, I'm only human," he said.

"It's just like Daniel Carter will miss the odd kick, he's not always on
form."

There was a certain karma last year when Kaplan penalised Australia in the dying stages at Sydney and All Blacks first five-eighth Carter banged over the decisive penalty for a 19-18 win.

New Zealand lost four of their first seven tests under Kaplan but have won the last nine for a 12-4 record.

Born in Durban to Jewish parents Kaplan, 43, isn't thinking about when he will bin the whistle.

His biggest bugbear is the amount of travel involved in Super rugby, although that has eased this year under the new merit-based structure.

He is enjoying rugby more this year, noting it is an attractive spectacle again under the new tackle law interpretations.

One goal is to control a World Cup final but that could be out of his hands if South Africa keep making it to the sport's biggest stage.