Saturday, April 25, 2009

The No Crap 8

A special contribution today from our fave Aucklander, Tess. Great job, I'm sure our readers will appreciate! Big thanks :)

Every Saturday morning during the rugby season, one of the two main sports radio stations (Radio Sport) have a news, views and talkback segment dedicated to the game. Currently it is hosted by legendary (in NZ)broadcaster/commentator/writer/journo etc and good Southern Man, Phil Gifford (a.k.a ‘Loose head Len” in a past life). Part of his hour long show features an informal Q&A with a chosen player called “the No Crap 8”… which are eight (mostly) rugby related questions, but he doesn’t want the same ol’ clichéd answers the NZRU have trained the players to dish out! And FINALLY…after practically every AB & most of the Crusaders, Mac was contacted!!!!(4th April) Unfortunately, they never archive gold nuggets like this BUT fortunately I was able to record it & transpose it verbatim! (how’s that for dedication!), so thought you might like to share with those RG’s who have email. I’ve taken out some of the “um’s & “ahh’s”( there were many) but this is pretty much how it went…

“Our very special guest on the “No Crap Eight” today is Richie McCaw who joins us now”
PG: Gidday Richie, how are you mate?

RM:Not bad. Yourself?

PG:Very good indeed thank-you. Now just quickly, before we get into the questions, when I say “how are you”, usually that’s a very superficial thing that doesn’t really mean how are you, but in this case actually…HOW ARE YOU?....are you still getting any pain from the knee? Because we see you on T.V occasionally breaking into a jog at training.

RM:Yeah,it feels pretty good.It’s the old medial ligament.The biggest thing is you lose a bit of stability until everything tightens up, so I can run in straight lines no trouble & I’m just starting to be able to get into a bit of agility. So yeah, running in straight lines is actually pretty good, you’ve gotta wait the next week to 10 days or so for things to stiffen up..(!)….so, we’re getting there.

PG:Oh good stuff..we’ll keep our fingers crossed for ya mate!

O.k., 1st question, which is kinda ironic, given that you have to work through rehab training at the moment.But,… just between us & the radio, so it’s very private( laughs)…What part of pre-season training do you look forward to the least?

RM:Umm…..that would probably be, the 1st day back where you get a trainer that’s jumping around, been planning for a long time to get his hands on you & you never quite know how you’re gonna be at after a bit of a break. The next day is usually the worst after a weight or running session & you’re usually stiff and sore;that’s what I dread the most. Once you get into it you’re pretty good.

PG: Fair enough, alright now, moving on to something that is terribly enjoyable for you. You’ve flown gliders & planes-can I ask though, what’s the most nerve-wracking mate? Is it the minute before kick off in a Test or the minute before flying solo for the first time?

RM:….(hesitation)..Oooh (big breath)…now there’s a good question! Ahh, I certainly get a few nerves before I go out to play because you never quite know how the teams gonna turn up so I’d almost say that before flying.Although, when the instructor sent me away solo 1st time, before he shut the door he said “don’t stuff it up, don’t become famous!”(laughter)…so I was like….ahhhhh o.k. ( gulp!). But nah, I think definitely the rugby, cause you have guys running at you & you’re never quite sure where they’re coming from.

PG: True enough, at least in an aeroplane, it’s your hands on the controls completely isn’t it.


PG:Yeah, dead right…good as gold.Richie, we’re not getting all Woman’s Weekly on you here mate, but I’m presuming you take…, let’s call it an “informed” interest in Dancing With The Stars….

RM:.( “groan”……muffled laughter……)

PG: Now, just between us again…..who is the Crusader that you feel would make an ideal candidate to dance in the show?

RM:Whoaaah!…do you know…actually before I answer that, there’s quite a few guys in the team, they won’t admit to it that they DO in fact watch it.But I reckon Andy Ellis would be ideal.He loves the limelight and you get a fair bit of that AND a good chance to make an idiot of yourself, so I reckon he’d be really good for it.(big guffaws of laughter)

PG: (more laughter)…Yeah right, he’s got alot of publicity with the Ellerslie Flower Show so….

RM:Exactly! Oh and he LOVES being in the spotlight, so I reckon he’d be alright too.

PG:Good stuff….& listen, no dis-respect to the man but I presume, I don’t know if you saw at all, those pink flouncy arms that Josh Kronfeld wore on the show this week.I would imagine that there’s no chance of any #7’s of your acquaintance getting involved in it??

RM:Mate….I reckon that’s THE worst thing about it..they try and REALLY make you look stupid with the clothes you put on, let alone the dancing! Some of the guys have to put make-up on, fake tans, wax their chest & do all sorts!!!

PG: Yeah mate…oooh, nah; it’s making me shudder as well!!!. O.k.…let’s go back and get right down to reality and the basic stuff.When you were a little kid Richie, you lived in North Otago…did you ever play on a field that was covered in frost and ice?

RM: Yep, there was the Kurow Domain where we used to play-loses the sun about 3pm every day so of course you almost get a perma-frost in the corners there.I remember playing on that, we used to train there as well, it was pretty awful.But the worst time was when a coach made us train on snow that had frozen, in Dunedin, when I was in the under 16’s-that was pretty nasty!

PG: Yeah, cause when snow freezes, it has those ugly little ridges on it doesn’t it….

RM: Yeah, yeah-and the 1st XV cancelled training but ha, ha….our coach decided to carry on.

PG:O.k…manly men at 15!…fair enough.Now talking about loose forwards-obviously it’s important for the #8 & the flankers to communicate well. As a matter of interest…who’s the biggest talker or chatterer you’ve ever played with?

RM:Hmm…probably Scott Robinson & the reason I say that is he was the #8 when I started & cause he played a lot at 7, he helped me out on the field & we’d often talk about ways of being as effective as possible.He had a fairly good understanding of what he wanted, what I was doing & what he wanted as an 8. So, he was the one who talked the most.

PG: Fair to say he was also a wildly enthusiastic guy which is nice too, so there we go

RM:Yeah, definitely

PG: Next question Richie, most players say they DON’T but um…again, just between us-do you ever sneak just a little look at what the media hacks have written about you?

RM:…ahh, I don’t NOT look at it. I quess for one reason is when you go to a press conference, often you get asked what was written, y’know, so you don’t want to be surprised about it

PG:…heh, heh

RM:But I think you learn as time goes on, you take it all with a grain of salt everything that’s written, because often, the extreme is either real good or real bad and there’s nothing much in-between and you’ve got to remember it’s not always like that. And the other thing I think about too is when I’ve watched a game that I haven’t played in & someone asks me about it, I really struggle to talk about it without looking at it closely. Whereas a lot of these articles are written from one aspect of the game & sometimes one good thing can make the story, y’know.But certainly, I don’t not read it.

PG:No, fair enough. Next question….When the whistle blows at a breakdown, have you ever been 100% sure which way the penalty will go???

RM: ……(very sheepishly…..)….yeah

PG: Now I know it’s a tricky one for you cause there might be the odd ref listening but….

RM: yeah…(nonchalantly)…I think sometimes you’re not sure but some refs….er…well early on you’re never quite 100% sure but all you ask for is consistency and if you can see when he’s going to whistle, after you’ve worked it out earlier, then you’re pretty happy.But there are certain games where the whistle blows, you see everyone’s face look up and you wonder what way it’s gonna go but the good refs are the ones where you pick it up really early & they stick to it the whole game. Then you know when you’re erring on the side of putting yourself in the danger zone of getting penalized.So, yeah, some games are different to others but I think the people watching sometimes wonder.

PG: Exactly….last question for our special guest Richie McCaw on the no-crap 8.

Richie, who is the sports person you’d most like the chance to meet & maybe have a chat with?

RM:Um…the one person I really admire is Tiger Woods and the reason I say that is, I’m useless at golf for starters but he beats a lot of people just through his mental toughness really. And that’s something, the more I play THIS sport, is the difference between top athletes & top teams. It’s just what purely comes down to the mental side of things. I reckon he’s the one that’s got it mastered the best, so to pick his brains on that would be pretty cool.

PG: Fair enough-Richie McCaw…look thanks very much for your time & of course along with I’m sure everybody listening, all the very best for a quick and complete recovery from the knee injury mate.

RM: Appreciate that Phil!


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