Is this the penultimate tick for McCaw's immortality?
James Mortimer 05 Oct 2013 Getty Images
It is essentially the halfway point of the All Blacks World Cup reign.
McCaw, like his fellow leadership group member Conrad Smith, spoke of memories of the 1995 epic at the ground where South Africa was inspired as a nation to win a World Cup of their own.
The Madiba effect has been equally if not more potent than the responsibility that comes with wearing the Black jersey, and the great Nelson Mandela came out on this very ground 18 years ago will be a memory still lingering, and with reports his health has improved, it would be an evening of monumental occasion if his name was evoked again.
However some numbers, with just three All Blacks wins in 11 visits, are countered by figures that fall towards the World Champions and defending title holders of The Investec Rugby Championship way – seeking their 12th title in 18 tournaments.
New Zealand has won seven of their last eight against the Springboks, further ruling a ledger since 1996 that reads 31 All Blacks wins in 44 Tests.
McCaw’s return to the side, ahead of schedule from a knee injury, will see him further extend his record as one of just four All Blacks centurions in his 120th Test, and the fizz in the captain this year was again obvious as he looked ahead to The Rugby Championship showdown.
“This will be my first test here,” he said.
“The boys and I are pretty excited about it.”
While there has definitely been talk of the imposing ground and a lopsided record, McCaw countered that matches like this were the reasons why you played Test rugby.
Steve Hansen threw a curve ball into the All Blacks camp by slyly suggesting that team hadn’t had the challenge to fire them up of late, and both coach and captain will be demanding a high octane and precise performance Sunday morning (NZT).
For McCaw, it will be potentially another tick in a career that has him already standing alongside Sir Colin Meads, in many observers opinions, as arguably our greatest All Blacks.
After this, there will be just one more square requiring that flick of a pen.
Something no player has ever achieved.
Successfully defend a Rugby World Cup.
He played the last one with what could have been considered a broken foot, this time he has returned from a knee injury, which he dismissed as being a concern.
"I wouldn't push myself to play if I wasn't ready," he said.
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