Warrior McCaw an inspiration

2011-10-21 07:30

Auckland - No one more typifies the All Blacks' insatiable hunger for an elusive Rugby World Cup crown than inspirational skipper Richie McCaw.

GALLERY: All Blacks wrap up preparation

GALLERY: Rugby World Cup final match-ups

The openside flank has carried a right foot injury through the demanding six-week tournament, but has been there when it really counted for the All Blacks.

McCaw, the three-times world player of the year - no one else has won it more than once - is treated with almost divine reverence in his rugby-obsessed homeland, where the media refer to him as "Captain Fantastic".

The 30-year-old became the first All Black to play 100 Tests and was presented with a special cap to mark the occasion in the pool stage victory over France, the hosts' opponents in Sunday's World Cup final at Eden Park.

"Every single minute I have played in the jersey for the All Blacks, huge memories. I love it just as much today as I did the first time I put the jersey on," he told the home crowd, as they chanted "Richie, Richie.", following his 100th Test.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry describes McCaw as not only an inspiration to his team but also to his country.

"He's a special player, a special man and inspirational to the country, not only inspirational to this rugby team but an inspiration to New Zealanders," Henry said.

"His steel, his bravery, his ability to lead from the front and by example, the respect the players have for him."

McCaw has become renowned for a tireless work rate, using his size and strength in punishing tackles and possessing an uncanny ability to win turnover ball. He is the benchmark for number sevens in world rugby.

McCaw has lost only 12 of his 102 Tests with New Zealand, and only eight of those as his country's skipper since 2006.

It has been a challenging and painful tournament for the unpretentious McCaw, sitting out training to preserve his injured foot through to game day and giving his all for his country.

That was no more evident than when he delivered masterclass in the art of the 'jackal in the tackle' to rival flanker David Pocock as New Zealand overwhelmed Australia 20-6 to reach the World Cup final.

McCaw showed no sign of the foot injury dating back to surgery for a stress fracture at the start of the year as he bossed the breakdown and Pocock with it.

"He has trained very little and where some other people might push it and not play, he's not pushing it so he can play," Henry observed.

And driving McCaw on is the painful memory of New Zealand's quarter-final loss to France four years ago, when he was also leading the team.

McCaw was inconsolable after the shattering defeat in Cardiff and like other members of the scarred All Blacks team received grief counselling.

But now the All Blacks are within 80 minutes of redemption to claim their long overdue second Webb Ellis Cup and get back one back on France, the team they beat in the 1987 final, also at Eden Park.

As New Zealand's rugby royalty, McCaw's lifestyle regularly fills the country's society pages but always with reference to how the modest leader puts the nation and his sport first.

He turned down an invitation to this year's wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton saying he wanted to focus on the Super 15 rugby competition.

He also rejected lucrative offers to play for European clubs saying he would rather play in New Zealand.

And he was the determined frontman for television commercials inspiring people in Christchurch following the devastating earthquakes which wrecked his home city this year.

McCaw recently extended his contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union, which will take him through to the next World Cup in 2015 and, barring injury, he'll threaten the world record for Tests of 139 held by Australian George Gregan.

* RWC final odds on BET.CO.ZA: New Zealand vs France


  • Nzbro - 2011-10-21 07:56

    You show them richie! There is a BLACK wave approaching and it STILL aint going away! Au, au, aue ha! (And it's my time! It's my moment! ) Ko Kapa o Pango e ngunguru nei! (This defines us as the All Blacks)

      Renny - 2011-10-21 08:17


      Johan - 2011-10-21 08:45

      .the All Blacks are winners because their players and coaches are selected on MERIT only... ..........look and learn, Proteas...!!

      Klark - 2011-10-21 22:03

      Richie is an absolute Legend, probably in the top 5 rugby players of all time.Watched last nights game one who the Proteas lost to, and one who they should have lost to. It clearly showed the gap between the All Blacks ,and other teams that has opened up at this tournament in skill levels ,and Tactics

  • Theprodigy - 2011-10-21 08:02

    Go France, teach those Skaapies a lesson (remember that), maybe that will stop them going on about themselves 24/7. Go Wales, stuff those Wobbly bellies up royally, 1st prize ....the NH teams win, 2 prize ...the NH teams win.

      Theo - 2011-10-21 08:19

      hey Theprodigy Dont you ever sleep? Is that bok loss that bad for you? You are commenting all over the place whats the matter with you? You still never responded to my last comment? Theprodigy those 3 errors are the undisputed facts of the Bok rwc failure. I see in your comments all over that you dont like dealing in facts and instead you prefer to conjur up theories that provide an alternative reality for you.Obviously reality is an issue too? Do you receive forensic treatment for your alternative reality world? No ? Well you should seriously consider it cause those 3 errors are not going to disappear no matter how many times you watch the match replay. Perhaps in your alternative reality the boks win in the 4th or 5th replay?

  • Rory - 2011-10-21 08:02

    As a bok supporter, you can only admire the man. Congrats you kiwi bastard on an incredible career both on and off the field.

  • Wesley - 2011-10-21 08:24

    GoOoooOOoOOOsssEEee BUMPS...!!! Cant wait! Its their time if not ours! Go ALL BLACKS!!!!!

  • Jerhone - 2011-10-21 08:27

    lets hope you don't put your gimpy foot in your mouth after the final, go froggies

  • heinrich.beukes1 - 2011-10-21 08:33

  • george.viljoen - 2011-10-21 08:35

    Ritchie, rugby Captain of the Century !!!

  • Alan - 2011-10-21 09:10

    Hmmm - it's only because of Richie McCaw that I am supporting France (even though it is probably a lost cause). For the rest, I respect the All Blacks, but I dont like them.

  • Brandon - 2011-10-21 09:29

    Although I am an avid Bok supporter, I have to give the man credit for his inspirational work rate, professionalism and dedication. McCaw will go down in history as one of the rugby greats, as hosts to the RWC and given their form, may ALL BLACKS prevail over France in the final.

  • AcidBlade - 2011-10-21 10:58

    One of the greats to ever play the game of rugby. People say he cheat but its actually the refs thats too slow to spot him. I mean really now... which human being has won the IRB player of the year 3 times by "cheating"???

      Barry - 2011-10-21 12:39

      Richie McCaw has done it !

  • Barry - 2011-10-21 12:21

    Richie McCheat. An inspiration to all dirty rugby players world wide.

      Klark - 2011-10-22 02:40

      Barry time to go back to your boyfriend needs a cuddle

      Barry - 2011-10-22 10:30

      @Klark...You such such a cutie when you are in insult mode Bless :)

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