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Rugby Championship/Bledisloe Cup

Kronfeld questions McCaw deal

Kronfeld questions McCaw deal

By Campbell Burnes

RICHIE McCAW’S predecessor as regular All Blacks No 7 is sceptical about the length of his new contract with the NZRU.

The All Blacks skipper last week followed Dan Carter in signing a four-year deal which will see him remain here until the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Josh Kronfeld, who played 54 tests, the last of which was in 2000, told Rugby News while the signing is good news, it is not so great for younger openside tyros.

“I think it’s fabulous for New Zealand rugby to have an old salt in the key set-up for another year. But if he’d moved on, it would have been great for the younger players coming through. Now it makes it tough for someone like Matt Todd.

“Four years is a long time and I find it incredible that the NZRU has bought in for that term. But it is a great credit to the man that they want to sign him for that long,” says Kronfeld.

McCaw, who has endured an injury-ravaged season with just five Super Rugby matches for the Crusaders out of a possible 14, is the reigning IRB Player of the Year and New Zealand Sportsman of the Year.

His re-signing was expected, but the length of time was a surprise, as he will be nearly 35 by the end of the 2015 season. There is also some concern about recurrence of headaches which have troubled him on occasion since 2005, but they do not appear to be as serious as those of Wallaby Berrick Barnes.

McCaw’s contract has clauses for a sabbatical or rest from the game, and clearly his workload will need managing over the next four years.

Kronfeld says this is a “natural progression”.

“It’s not a good look to younger players (to be resting early in the week), but as you get older your body doesn’t recover as quickly, even by Monday or Tuesday.”

Kronfeld’s own All Blacks days came to an abrupt, and some would say, sad end, at the end of a three-year deal in 2000.

“I was happy to stay and gave the NZRU a year’s grace. They never really got back to me, didn’t seem too fussed and said they couldn’t pay as much as before. That didn’t add up as I was still the No 1 (openside) at that stage.

“They didn’t take me to France (at the end of 2000) but the coaches told me afterwards they wished they had taken me. Richie came along at the end of 2001 so it didn’t matter anyway.”

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