Sunday, May 21, 2006

McCaw named new skipper

Crusaders skipper Richie McCaw has been formally confirmed as the new All Blacks captain. The announcement was made by All Blacks coach Graham Henry at a media conference at McCaw’s Christchurch Rugby Club today. “As well as a great honour and privilege, it is a big challenge to captain the All Blacks,” McCaw said. “Along with the other team leaders, I hope we can keep improving on the success of the last 18 months and play some exciting rugby. New Zealand has some excellent players right now who are enjoying the game and I’m looking forward to the job.” McCaw, who is the team’s 60th Test captain, has already led the All Blacks twice in Test matches. The first was against Wales in November of 2004 and the second against Ireland in 2005. He now takes on the captaincy full-time following the retirement of Tana Umaga from international rugby. “It’s a natural step for Richie to take on the captain’s role,” Graham Henry said. “He has been an All Black since 2001, he is a world class player, and he has led the team well in previous Tests. He has also been a highly successful captain with the Crusaders and with Canterbury.” Henry also confirmed that McCaw is expected to lead the All Blacks into their 2006 season in Hamilton on 10 June. “It would be appropriate for Richie to lead the team in the first Test of the year against Ireland.” McCaw made his All Blacks debut in 2001 against Ireland and has since played 36 Tests. Raised in North Otago, the flanker has also represented New Zealand at the Under 19 and Under 21 levels. The 25-year-old has made more than 50 appearances for the Crusaders and shared in two Rebel Sport Super 12 titles with the franchise. McCaw captained Canterbury in the Air New Zealand NPC during the 2004 season and is the current Crusaders captain.

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