CHRISTCHURCH (AFP) – New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum appealed Friday to Rugby World Cup winning skipper Richie McCaw to stay close to his phone in coming weeks — he may be needed as a cricket mentor.
The talismanic McCaw refused to be weighed down by the intense expectation of a partisan public when New Zealand hosted rugby’s showpiece tournament in 2011.
He duly led the All Blacks to an 8-7 victory over France in the final, ending a 24-year nightmare for the rugby-obsessed country after the world’s top-ranked side had failed in every World Cup since their one previous victory in 1987.
Four years on and McCullum finds himself under similar pressure with the New Zealand media lifting the cricket team from World Cup underdogs to favourites on the back of a string of successes over the past year.
It’s not a tag McCullum shies away from, believing this is New Zealand’s best chance to win since they co-hosted the tournament with Australia 23 years ago.
“It’s a team I’m really comfortable taking into a World Cup and we give ourselves a good chance,” he said.
However, while New Zealand have been regular semi-finalists they have never made the ultimate showdown and McCullum said he may have to call on McCaw for advice when they get close to the final.
“What (the All Blacks) were able to achieve, winning a World Cup at home after being without the trophy for so long, and the expectations that they dealt with, especially in rugby in our country, was amazing,” McCullum said when questioned about how he was now in a similar situation to McCaw.
“I’m in awe with how they dealt with that and the result that they were able to achieve.
“There will come a time when we will lean on those sorts of people when we get the opportunity, maybe later on in the tournament if we find ourselves in that situation.”