• McCaw still setting the standard

    Steve Hansen says that All Blacks captain Richie McCaw remains one of the most influential players in Test rugby, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.

    McCaw has won every individual and team accolade on offer. His win record with the All Blacks stands at 89%, and he’s finished on the victorious Test side an astounding 117 times. Included in that record is 18 wins against the Springboks in 23 matches.

    Hansen said this week that it was McCaw who inspired the All Blacks to a World Cup victory in 2011. McCaw inspired teammates through his own physical performances, and through his determination to maintain a high standard despite a broken foot. McCaw pushed the collective to the next level, and ultimately, that elusive world title.

    That was nearly three years ago. McCaw has not, as some predicted, faded into the background post the World Cup. The 33-year-old has been a key player for the all-conquering All Blacks in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The way Hansen was talking this week, you get the feeling that the All Blacks will be looking to McCaw for further inspiration at the 2015 World Cup in England.

    McCaw will break yet another record when he plays against the Boks this Saturday. The Test at Ellis Park will mark his 134th game for the All Blacks (133 in Tests), and will take him past Colin Meads at the top of New Zealand’s all-time list.

    The decorated yet humble McCaw played down the milestone, as he truly believes another win against the Boks this Saturday is what really matters.

    ‘It’s something that will be nice to reflect on afterwards, but right now, the excitement of playing against the Boks at Ellis Park is enough,’ he said. ‘It’s one of the ultimate challenges, coming here, and we want a good performance. That's what matters.’

    Hansen, however, hopes his skipper receives due recognition for what he’s achieved over the course of his career.

    ‘He just never plays a bad game. He’s the reason we won that World Cup,’ Hansen said. ‘One day, when he reflects on it all, he can be proud. And with regards to that record [for the most All Blacks caps], I don’t think he’ll need to buy a beer in New Zealand ever again.’

    Bok captain Jean de Villiers also paid tribute to McCaw on Friday. Regardless of what transpires at Ellis Park this Saturday, the two will share a drink in the aftermath.

    ‘He’s just a great guy, as well as a great player,’ said De Villiers. ‘There have been some great battles between South Africa and New Zealand over the years. You have to admire what Richie has done, and the massive impact he has had on world rugby as a whole.’

    Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

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    Jon Cardinelli