Sunday, May 21, 2006
McCaw takes on the reins
In New Zealand, many youngsters dream of captaining the All Blacks.
However, Richie McCaw said he was not one of them.
McCaw, who was on Saturday appointed to take over the All Blacks captaincy from retired captain Tana Umaga, said he never held such lofty goals.
"To be quite honest, no. Just playing for the All Blacks is a dream," McCaw said.
"When I was young I used to dream about running around with the silver fern on, but the thought (of being captain) as a young fellow never entered my mind really."
It was an open secret that McCaw would be named captain and he appeared relaxed at his Christchurch rugby club as Henry rattled off the announcement.
It was not surprising, considering he knew of Henry's plans as far back as late last year.
He also candidly stated that he was more emotional in 2004, when he was handed the captaincy for the first time against Wales in Cardiff.
"The very first time I was made captain was probably the one that blew me away," McCaw said. "I didn't really expect that. I think because I had done it before it wasn't like the very first time."
Although Henry is likely to rest some players who represented the Crusaders and Hurricanes in the Super 12 play-offs, there will be little respite for McCaw.
Instead he will lead the All Blacks on to Hamilton's Waikato Stadium against Ireland on June 10 and probably again in Auckland a week later.
While Henry is to name a large 39-man squad for the Ireland tests and match against Argentina in Buenos Aires on June 24, McCaw will also travel to Argentina where he will "possibly" play.
McCaw was Umaga's vice-captain for the two seasons he was in charge but Henry said he would not be naming another when he releases his squad on May 28.
"There are several guys who can do the job and we will appoint the most appropriate person for that particular game," Henry said.
"If we named the vice-captain, we might have the captain and vice-captain both resting at that time."
Henry said he was "fortunate" that there would be Super 14 captains and former All Blacks captains in his squad to cover McCaw when he is not named.
Crusaders team-mate Aaron Mauger, who captained the All Blacks against the Barbarians in 2004, is a certainty to be selected.
Super 14 captains Anton Oliver, Rodney So'oialo and Keven Mealamu are other captaincy options.
"There will be players that captain the side when Richie is not playing and we are fortunate to have a number of people who can do that job," Henry said. "I will leave that to your imagination."
Even before Henry had several months ago said that "even a blind man" could see McCaw would take over the captaincy, it was obvious he was the leading candidate.
Mauger, So'oialo and Mealamu were touted as other options but Henry said McCaw was named because he was one of the world's best openside flankers and was never in doubt of being picked.
"It's important that the captain is a quality player. Richie is one of the best No. 7s in world rugby, he is guaranteed selection for the All Blacks. He leads by example and that ability to lead from the front and be a world class player is important for the rest of the players," Henry said. "Tana Umaga was a world class player and was guaranteed selection and Richie just carries on that philosophy."