Friday November 09, 2007
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw laughed off suggestions that he might need grief counselling to cope with the team's shock defeat in the World Cup, saying public support had helped him and his fellow players handle their disappointment.
The star flanker took to the rugby field with a selection of new teammates yesterday - the South Auckland Kiwis, from Mt Richmond Road special school.
The team, with an average age of 19, have intellectual disabilities. They met McCaw at Aorere Park in Mangere as part of his role as an ambassador for the Westpac Halberg Awards, which funds programmes that give disabled kids a chance to play sport.
McCaw told the Herald he and the team were devastated by the early World Cup exit - but he hadn't been receiving grief counselling to cope with the loss.
"That gets blown out of proportion ... the boys are pretty good, we were a pretty close team and keep in contact and make sure everyone's all right. To be honest, the guys are gutted. They put a lot of effort in and it's like anything if you come up a bit short - you feel really gutted." The public support had boosted the players.
"The public have been great. I think they can see we gave it our best. We didn't play as well as we could have, and they were as disappointed as we were," he said.
The future of the All Blacks coaching team is under threat but McCaw said he was just as in the dark as the rest of New Zealand.
He isn't directly involved in the coaching review but had been asked to assess how the campaign went.
"Other than that I sit back - I've been asked a lot of times what I think is going to happen and I have absolutely no idea."
Who would be the next All Black coach was the last thing in the minds of the South Auckland Kiwis.
Captain Andrew Johnston said McCaw had talked to them about rugby, including some scrum and tackling tips.
"He told us we were good - but we're not good enough for the All Blacks yet," Johnston said.
The team, who play in the Tamaki president's league, train twice a week.
"Sport is a real leveller and a real motivator. It's for everyone so I think the Tamaki club deserves a real pat on the back for including this special team in their league," McCaw said.