As the post-Richie McCaw World Cup-winning All Blacks aim for a fifth successive 2016 Rugby Championship win against the Pumas in Buenos Aires, there is no keeping New Zealand's greatest ever player off the front pages.
McCaw, the professional game's most successful player and captain with just 15 defeats in a 148 Tests, has on Friday turned a passion into a possible profession by becoming a wing commander in the New Zealand Air Force.
McCaw's love flying stems from his grandfather, who was a fighter pilot in the second World War and McCaw has stated that it is his ambition to become a commercial airline pilot.
None among the New Zealand coaching staff or players are surprised at the immediacy of McCaw's passion into something that will be beneficial to New Zealanders.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen described McCaw as the 'ultimate professional' whose work ethic, attention to detail and drive as incomparable.
'He's a winner. He's a leader and he responds to responsibility. He has never done anything without wanting to be the best but his quality has always been his regard and respect to do the hard yards and start at the back of the queue. Remains an inspiration to every New Zealander and every current All Black. He set a standard that was deemed impossible and never lost his regard for an All Black occassion and gave every Test and Test opponent the respect.'
Hansen, in congratulating McCaw, said the new All Blacks could take nothing for granted because history favours New Zealand victories in Argentina. The coach said McCaw remained an inspiration and hopefully those who follow his legacy will give him equal reason to smile.'
McCaw, 35, has been a Royal New Zealand Air Force squadron leader since 2009, but this week was appointed as a wing commander by the chief of the air force at a leadership forum in Ohakea.
In a post on their Facebook page, the New Zealand Air Force said:
‘Richie’s left the playing field behind for the air field!
‘The man famous for his leadership skills on the rugby ground is joining the Air Force Leadership Forum at Base Ohakea today. With two Rugby World Cup triumphs under his belt, we reckon he’s a pretty good fit. Richie’s career has also been built on very similar values that the NZDF holds dear – Courage, Commitment and Comradeship. And let’s not forget his love of aviation.
‘Since 2009 Richie has been an honorary Air Force Squadron Leader. He excels in performance, leadership, developing diversity and commitment to serving – not just as the All Blacks captain, but as a Kiwi who epitomises the values we all aspire to. Because of this, the Chief of Air Force is proud to today promote him to Wing Commander.
McCaw is a licenced fixed-wing pilot and is working towards his helicopter licence. He's even expressed interest in a career as a professional pilot now he's not wearing the All Black jersey any more.
Photo: Royal New Zealand Air Force/Facebook