Friday, July 18, 2008

McCaw makes flying visit to base

John Alexander - The Marlborough Express
Friday, 18 July 2008

All Black rugby captain Richie McCaw made a spectacular and surprise entrance at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, Blenheim, yesterday.

His visit was arranged by the RNZAF, although most at the base were supposedly unaware of it.

An aviation enthusiast and qualified pilot, the injured rugby flanker flew from Christchurch in an RNZAF Air Trainer, which he landed at Woodbourne like a seasoned professional. He was then was ferried by Iroquois helicopter to the parade ground on the northern side of the base.

His visit was arranged so he could speak to recruits and other staff at the base about leadership.

McCaw spoke about his role with the All Blacks and how the team was organised and structured on and off the field.

He told the crowd his boyhood rugby hero was Wayne (Buck) Shelford and that Makos coach Todd Blackadder had a big influence on his career.

Flying is one of McCaw's passions. He holds a private pilot's license and has logged more than 200 hours powered flying and over 100 hours in a glider.

He is patron of a Christchurch trust set up to maintain an old DC3 aircraft which he has a rating to fly.

The popular rugby captain said he enjoyed gliding at Omarama, where he and his parents own a house, and said he'd like to get his commercial license so he could fly passengers in the DC3.

Ruled out of last week's test against the Springboks due to an ankle injury, McCaw said he was not sure when he'd be able to play again.

"It's coming along all right. I've done a bit of running on it. Hopefully I'm not too far away (from playing) but I'm not sure."
Next week's clash against Australia, coached by his former mentor and friend Robbie Deans, is something he hopes to be part of.
"It's the Wallabies we are playing against and you want nothing more than to beat them, I tell you."

Squadron Leader Phill Bedford, who helped co-ordinate McCaw's visit, said the RNZAF was deadly serious about leadership and there were several parallels with McCaw's All Black job and the role RNZAF leaders had in guiding their staff to achieve excellence.

SURPRISE: All Black rugby captain Richie McCaw speaks to squadron leader Phill Bedford, left, soon after disembarking from an Iroquois helicopter at Woodbourne yesterday.

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