Simone Favaro: All Blacks not just about McCaw

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James Mortimer     15 Nov 2012     Getty Images

This statement is in line with Italy’s historic traits, where they seem to relish putting collective pressure on an area of their opposition’s game, with their most recent exploits against the All Blacks being a targeting of their scrum and swarming defence to frustrate the New Zealanders.

While previous meetings have resulted in heavy score lines, the two tests the nations played recently resulted in a 14 point and 21 point winning margin for the All Blacks, the best results for the Azzurri against New Zealand, matches where the All Blacks response post –match was akin to a loss.

For Italy, what may have previously been fear of the All Blacks has evolved into excitement.

They are relishing seeing “where they are at” by measuring themselves against the World Champions, while Treviso flank Favaro says that for an individual player it was the ultimate test against the ultimate team.

“We're challenging the world champions,” he said.

“The team that plays the best rugby and the one all rugby players dream of playing against. The fact we're playing New Zealand has changed the whole atmosphere in the team, which is great.

"We have a chance to understand the level we're at.”

“Playing against the All Blacks is an important test for all of our players."

While Italy’s prowess up front was undoubted, as was their physical defensive approach, some rugby purists argued that their weakness wasn’t their attack, but ability to dominate the ruck with or without the ball.

Here McCaw and the All Blacks set the benchmark, but Favaro said the presence of the World Cup winning captain wouldn’t mean much to Italy.

“We're playing against New Zealand as a whole, we really don't care whether he (McCaw) plays or not,” he said.

The All Blacks will name their team on Thursday.