NZPA - 10/06/2009
Who will the All Blacks miss more - Richie McCaw the captain or Richie McCaw the player?
The influence of world class flanker McCaw has become increasingly central to the All Blacks' cause, so much so that his injury absence from this month's two tests against France is enough on its own to give the tourists hope in the eyes of many.
His No 7 jersey will be worn by Adam Thomson and the captaincy handed to fullback Mils Muliaina.
Both will hope they can do a better job than those charged with replacing an injured McCaw last year, a period when the All Blacks lost their only tests of 2008, to South Africa in Dunedin and Australia in Sydney.
McCaw's presence this week ahead of the first test at Carisbrook has been important in helping Thomson and the raw loose forwards find their feet, while carrying out test promotional work. However, there is seemingly no replacing his on-field deeds.
Statistics show there has never been a more successful individual in test rugby history than 28-year-old McCaw, in terms of success rate both as a captain and player.
In both categories he is the only play worldwide with a winning ratio of 90 percent or better.
Of the 104 captains to have led their country in 15 tests or more, McCaw leads the way with 30 wins from 33 tests for a success rate of 90.9 percent.
Nine of the top 13 captains on that list are All Blacks, with Andy Dalton (88.2 percent) and Reuben Thorne (86.9) second and third, followed by former South African skipper Morne du Plessis (86.7).
McCaw also tops the list of 746 players to have contested 35 tests or more, having won 63 of 70 matches for a 90 percent record.
In a remarkable statistic, the leading 21 players are all All Blacks, with former flanker AJ Whetton (88.6) and injured first five-eighth Daniel Carter (88.1) following McCaw.
The leading non-All Black is English winger Dan Luger, who won 31 of 38 tests from 1998-2003.