29 Oct 2015

'This is the moment'

12:10 pm on 29 October 2015

The All Blacks are pushing emotion to one side as they prepare to farewell some of their greatest players after the Rugby World Cup final against Australia.

Richie McCaw celebrates with Ma'a Nonu following the semi-final win over South Africa.

Richie McCaw celebrates with Ma'a Nonu following the semi-final win over South Africa. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Keven Mealamu are all set to play their final tests at Twickenham on Sunday after lengthy careers with well over 500 international caps between them.

However assistant coach Ian Foster said it wasn't something that would be talked about in the camp this week.

"I don't think we need to spend much time on it at all," Foster said.

"It's the Rugby World Cup final. We've talked about this particular game for a long, long time. We've had to work hard to be here and now for all the team, whether they're thinking of moving on or not, this is all about the here and the now. This is the moment.

"There'll be plenty of time afterwards to talk about people, but we don't want to waste this opportunity."

The players themselves have echoed those sentiments, preferring to focus on how to stop the Wallabies at Twickenham than reflecting on their careers.

"There really hasn't been any mention," says Conrad Smith.

"We're just talking about winning a World Cup, just as we did four years ago."

While they will continue to try and deflect individual praise that comes their way during the final week of their international careers, there's no denying the role the departing players have had in shaping the current side.

Hooker Dane Coles grew up watching Mealamu and credits his mentor with helping his elevation to be the undisputed first choice rake in the squad.

"He's a guy I always looked up to," Coles said.

"I've had countless conversations with him over the years to help me improve my game and he's probably the main reason why I've had the chance to play in the All Blacks for a little while now."

There will be many more tributes like that, but most will have to wait for now as the All Blacks get stuck into their preparations for the most important test in their long rivalry with Australia.

The team has relocated to their new training base at Surrey's Pennyhill Park - the traditional home for the English side - and have had their first full training session.

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