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McCaw happy with injury progress

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Sportal.co.nz     23 May 2012     Getty Images

He said at the end of the All Blacks' preliminary squad session in Auckland on Tuesday that with two 80-minute match efforts behind him, the second had been better than the first and that his return had not been as difficult as he had anticipated.

"I put a fair bit of work in, even though I wasn't running, in January, February, March and it is just getting the timing right, those sorts of things that are taking a bit of time, but I am starting to feel not too bad," he said.

McCaw said that in the wake of the Rugby World Cup, and the turnover of players that had occurred, there was a different feel about the squad with a large group of new players, some of whom would be involved when the final team was named.

"I think that difference is good. There are a lot of guys who have been through this experience before, management included, and finding the balance, between the excitement of being here for the first time plus the guys who know what it is all about, and getting it right [is important].

"It feels like there is a pretty good mix here and we've just to make sure we get that right and that transfers to getting it right on the field," he said.

McCaw said it was clear there were some new young loose forwards on show at the camp and he never took his place for granted.

"The last couple of days I have played with guys who are all great at what they do and it's pretty exciting," he said.

It was a case of the experienced players showing the newer crop, through their actions, what performing at the top level was all about.

McCaw was not surprised that the Ireland side which was named on Monday was looking to make an impact during the first three-Test Steinlager Series between the sides.

"I've never played against an Irish team that's ever been very easy to be honest. We've always had good challenges over the years we've played, especially here in New Zealand. It should be a good challenge for us," he said.

There was some encouraging news regarding Keven Mealamu.

McCaw said Mealamu felt his injured calf muscle was 'coming right' and that was welcome news especially for the hooker who had been frustrated at having to sit back and watch as his Blues team struggled.

While there was no guarantee Mealamu would be fit for the Ireland Tests, McCaw said to have a player with 90-plus Tests would be important to the side.

"If he's not then he's not, but he's got to make sure he gets it right because there is a fair bit of rugby to go this year," he said. "To have that sort of experience floating around would be great."

The camp had been useful, more from reducing the workload that will be required when the team is chosen to prepare for the first Test. The five days available to prepare was not a lot of time ahead of the first game of the year, he said.