Follow me says fizzing McCaw

Now captain Richie McCaw will cast a steely glance at his teammates and hope each takes responsibility for a rare downturn in their fortunes against the Wallabies on Saturday.

Rarely do the All Blacks lose three Tests in a row but that is the prospect if Robbie Deans' men topple them at ANZ Stadium to keep the Bledisloe Cup alive for 2009.

A year ago, with McCaw absent through injury, the All Blacks lost to South Africa in Dunedin, then crossed the Tasman for a 19-34 defeat in coach Deans' first test against his old team.

Doom merchants emerged and the fateful 1998 season of five consecutive defeats reared its head.

But McCaw returned at Eden Park to inspire a 39-10 victory and spark a nine-match winning streak which included a second grand slam in four years.

The gloom returned this year, partly thanks to the absence of key men McCaw and Daniel Carter, as they lost to France, scraped past the Wallabies then lost twice to the Springboks.

With Carter back for the first time in 2009, McCaw was excited about their chance to revive their fortunes at ANZ Stadium where they've lost three of their last four tests.

"Last year we lost two in a row, the guys were pretty desperate to get it right which we managed to do and it's exactly the same this year," McCaw said.

"We're up against a team that's in the same boat so that's going to make for a pretty good test with two pretty desperate teams.

"It's not one of the nicest situations to be in but you'll see how good guys are to get themselves back up and performing."

Carter had slotted back into the side like he'd never been away, McCaw said.

The key in recent days had been keeping a lid on the excitement after two high-octane training sessions, still several days out from kickoff.

Henry's paint-stripping team talk last week didn't need to be followed up by more ranting and raving in Sydney, McCaw said.

McCaw felt as responsible as anyone for their South African struggles after his early-season period on the sidelines, and took it upon himself to lead the way here.

"When you're out there it almost hurts more because you know you weren't doing it right. I know my performances personally weren't as good as I would have liked. That gives you a real want to go out and put things right."'

The fallout from South Africa saw the benching of frontliners Rodney So'oialo (for Kieran Read) and Ma'a Nonu (for Luke McAlister) yesterday.

The in-form Read admitted he was surprised to usurp So'oialo, with lineout strength a key component in his elevation.

"It's always tough when you take over from someone, but in my role I've got to do what I can for the team," he said.

"Rodney's been pretty good and we get together quite a lot, so he's still helping me out. He's still a great player and he'll add a lot off bench."


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