By Sally Aae (Kurow)
Hometown hero... AB flanker Richie McCaw visited Kurow yesterday, near where he grew up in the Haka. Valley (photo by Sally Rae)
Oamaru : Richie McCaw doesn't get to Kurow very often these days.But during a flying visit to the Waitaki Valley town yesterday, he saw few changes from when he was a boy growing up in the nearby Hakataramea Valley.
"It's still dry", the AB and Crusaders flanker said.
McCaw and his father, Donald, both keen pilots, flew to Kurow for the opening of CRT's new store in the Bledisloe St.
Don and Margaret McCaw farmed for many years in the Hakataramea Valley before moving to Ch-church, where Mr McCaw (senior!) now workd for CRT's seed division.
Brought up on the family farm, Richie McCaw was educated at the now closed Hakataramea Valley School and Kurow Area school, before boarding at Otago Boys High School.
His memories of living in the area included riding motorcycles, shooting and "doing all those sorts of things as a farm kid".
Rugby was always a favourite pastime and he remembered, as he grew up, locals speaking of the late Phil Gard, who was also an AB.
"We were lucky Barney McCone coached us [the Kurow juniors] for about 5 years and looked after us. I'm sure that was a big part of it", he said, when asked how those early years had shaped his rugby career.
Yesterday, a relaxed McCaw was mimgling with farmers and catching up with old acquaintances.
He usually headed further up the valley to Omarama during summer months to pursue an interest in gliding, but he occasionally flew down to catch up with family still living in the Hakataramea area.
As a high profile sportsman, he was used to plenty of attention from the public but in Kurow, people remembered him from before his rugby days, he said.
He also paid a visit to Waitaki Valley School, established on the site of the former Kurow Area School, much to the delight of the pupils.