RICHIE McCAW is worthy of being held in the same esteem as Sir Brian Lochore, Sir Wilson Whineray and Sean Fitzpatrick, says All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
His words come after the world’s premier openside re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union until the end of 2015 yesterday.
“The best way for me to communicate what a fine leader McCaw is to tell you a story about him,” said Henry.
“Back in 2008, I think it was, we were playing a test in South Africa. We didn't get back to our hotel until the early hours of the morning and the guys needed to be up at six in the morning to get to our next venue.
“Richie held a team meeting at 4.30am before they left with his leadership group to set the tone for the rest of the week. For me, when he did that, the next test match was won right there. He not only leads by example on the field, but is a settling influence for the team. He is a very, very good leader of men.
“You just need to look at his winning percentage. Although it is hard for me to compare him to Whineray for example, because I have not had the same amount to do with him as I have a Fitzy or a Tana Umaga, I don't think too many people would argue that McCaw is among our finest All Blacks captains. He has had that rare ability to adapt as a rugby player and as a leader and displays all the attributes of a great leader: courage, bravery and guts. We are very lucky to have him.”
McCaw follows in the footsteps of Crusaders teammate Dan Carter, who last week also signed with the national organisation for four more seasons.
Like Carter, his deal includes several clauses, including the option to take a sabbatical or a complete break from the game.
“I’ve always said that as long as I am enjoying playing footy in New Zealand then I will stay, and the fact is I still am, so I’m pleased to confirm that I have re–signed with the NZRU for four more years,” said McCaw.
“I still have the hunger and desire to continue to play for the All Blacks and the Crusaders and there are still things I want to achieve as a player.”
The 30-year-old’s contract contains a sabbatical, but McCaw said he was unsure when he would take it.
He said his interest in playing overseas was minimal.
“But four years is a long time,” he said. “If I get burnt out it gives me a chance to take a break.”
McCaw will be 34 by the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
He said if or the NZRU feel that he is no longer capable of playing for the All Blacks there was a clause in their deal for them to part ways before the four years expires.
“A four-year deal is a big commitment from both parties and the reason for the flexibility is so both parties can sit around the table and go ‘where to from here?'.”
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew, who is in London said McCaw would have the right to take a break from the game during his four-year tenure.
“We are delighted to retain Richie for a further four years. He is an inspiration both on and off the field and as our most capped test captain and All Black, he will provide New Zealand rugby and the All Blacks with a very solid foundation to approach the next four years from 2012.”
Tew said McCaw's rugby knowledge was invaluable, not only on the field but in the wider sense as well.
“Our game faces some real challenges and Richie's broader understanding of these and his commitment to the health of the game generally will be extremely important as we face those challenges.”
McCaw is the latest in a large group of current and recent All Blacks who have recommitted to New Zealand rugby after this year's Rugby World Cup, including Keven Mealamu, Hika Elliot, Tony Woodcock, Ben Franks, Anthony Boric, Tom Donnelly, Sam Whitelock, loose forwards Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read, Daniel Braid, Liam Messam, Victor Vito, Jimmy Cowan, Alby Mathewson, Daniel Carter, Colin Slade, Aaron Cruden, Conrad Smith, Benson Stanley, Israel Dagg and Ben Smith.« Back to Archives
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