Sunday, May 21, 2006
McCaw can cope say parents
Richie McCaw's parents are confident their son can handle the All Blacks' captaincy – on and off the field.
Parents Don and Margaret and younger sister Joanna saw All Blacks coach Graham Henry officially announce McCaw as Tana Umaga's successor at the Christchurch rugby club on Saturday morning.
Having led the Crusaders for two seasons and being an All Black since 2001, McCaw is already aware of the pressure and obligations that come with fronting high profile teams.
However, they will increase considerably now he is the All Blacks' skipper.
"We hope he can cope with it," said Margaret McCaw. "We know rugby has such a high profile in New Zealand ... It worries me a wee bit but I think so (that he will handle the job)."
"I'm sure he will try his best, give it his best shot whether it's good enough or not," said Don McCaw.
In a small country like New Zealand, the All Blacks' captain carries a public profile to match the Prime Minister's.
It was something that Umaga did not always appear comfortable with.
The captaincy will be a big emotional load for the 25-year-old McCaw to carry, but he is a confident leader, a mature speaker and seems at ease in the public eye.
Next year he will carry the nation's World Cup expectations on his shoulders, and the All Blacks management will want players and off-field staff who can make the ride as smooth as possible.
McCaw said he was not intimidated by the loss of privacy and extra obligations.
"Not really. I think just being an All Black, means you become well known around the place," he said.
"There's no point at looking at it as a burden. Playing for the All Blacks is a major experience and if anything like that ever gets to me, I just think of pulling on that jersey and running out.
"That stuff's really minor. I know there will be challenges, but if you just keep to the reason you do it ... and you are there to help the team enjoy it."
Like everyone else in New Zealand, Don and Margaret McCaw knew their son was the leading contender to lead the All Blacks after Umaga's retirement.
It became an open secret soon after, when Henry announced that "even a blind man" could see McCaw was the logical successor.
McCaw's parents, who moved from their Kurow farm to live near Christchurch several years ago, summed-up their feelings when asked if they had envisaged the day their son would be named as the All Blacks captain. "Never, never dreamed of it," Margaret said. Husband Don agreed. "What an honour for him just to play for Canterbury ... this is unbelievable."