With a more traditional loose forward pairing employed for this contest, as Jerome Kaino takes the place of openside Marty Holah, McCaw expects the more physical quality that Kaino brings will be significant in the battle for dominance at the breakdown.
McCaw said he wasn't surprised that Ireland did so well at the breakdown, not so much because of the skills on display, rather because there were too few things working in the manner that the New Zealanders prefer.
"There were a lot of little things we didn't do right, and it gave them a chance to slow our ball down.
"We didn't cross the gain line and stuff like that, a lot of things compounded," he said.
The All Blacks have been working on that matter. But he added that even if the combination from the first Test had been retained the pressure would have gone on to up the ante.
McCaw is looking for Kaino's physicality to make a difference in the contest.
All the side will be better for the nature of the first Test. They know they all need to lift their performance and he said the All Blacks will have to start better.
He doesn't want to have to rely on coming through at the end to win the game. He felt a lot better for the match and is looking forward to the second Test and he imagines the rest of the team will be.
Because there were elements to the match that were similar to the problems the Crusaders struck during the round robin stage of the Super 14 it was beneficial for him to call on that experience.
"You've just got to keep encouraging the guys that we have got what we need to complete the job.
"It felt during the game that if we could hold things together we could get points. You've just got to encourage guys when they get under pressure, or a mistake happens, and get on with the next job," he said.
Another newcomer to the side, lock Troy Flavell had seemingly ended his All Blacks career before McCaw started to make his mark at international level. But since his return from Japan he has won his way back and McCaw has been impressed over the potential he brings the side.
"He definitely made a good impact when he came on because he's a big man and if he gets ball in hand he's a big threat, so he brings some presence.
"He's quite an athlete and if we get all that working within our team, he's going to be quite a weapon. He's come back into the fold after not having been here for a while so he's had to learn a fair bit. I'm sure, as time goes on, he'll get better," he said.
And the third newcomer, centre Casey Laulala is better known to McCaw through their Crusaders connection.
"He's similar to Ma'a [Nonu], they've both got the ability to break the line, they're a big threat with the ball in hand and in that sort of thing he is going to bring some presence to the backline.
"It's going to be interesting, but I think he'll take his opportunity and from what I've seen playing with him this year, he's matured a helluva lot.
"He actually thinks about what he needs to do, whether he needs to give the ball, or use it himself, hopefully he can carry that on," he said.