Crusaders flanker Richie McCaw knows from past experience, both sweet and bitter, that a crucial moment can decide Saturday’s Super Rugby final result against the Waratahs in Sydney.
“When it comes down to one or two moments, the teams that are good enough to take those opportunities are the ones that win,” the All Blacks captain said.
“If you drop your guard for one or two moments, you’ll come second.”
He will be making his eighth Super final appearance, the first being in 2002 against the Brumbies when the Crusaders won the competition for the fourth time.
McCaw can recall some of the key moments in the finals he’s played.
In 2011, when they lost against the Reds in Queensland, it was when halfback Will Genia scored a try out of nowhere.
In 2008, the last time the Crusaders won a final, also against the Waratahs, it was when they thought they’d scored a try, but the referee pulled play back because of an earlier punch thrown by Brad Thorn.
McCaw said he could see the opposition lift after that.
“That was probably the moment that could have really cost us, but it didn’t.”
The Crusaders displayed their characteristic resilience on that occasion, partly honed by thorough pre-match preparation.
“Everyone says, ‘y’know, you’ve got to go through the process of the week like you always do’ and I think that’s true,” McCaw said.
“I think we’ve got to turn up on Saturday with all the detail of how we’re going to play sorted.”
McCaw admits that even with his years of international experience he still gets nervous ahead of big games.
“It’s a good sort of nervous though,” he said.
“These are the moments that you want to be involved in and the games you want to play in.
“You go through all the hard work for three or four, five months to give yourself a shot at this game.”
The Crusaders have gone five seasons without a title, and are desperate for there not to be a sixth come Sunday.
McCaw said this side were different from recent ones that had made it to the semi-finals then hadn’t performed.
“At least this year we’ve given ourselves a chance and now the big job is to perform when it really counts.
“That’s what champion teams do, and that’s what we’re really keen to do.”