Sunday, October 30, 2011

Richie McCaw shines brightest in adversity MARC HINTON 25/10/2011

For weeks all we've heard from Richie McCaw are four words uttered between increasingly gritted teeth. "I'm good to go."

But in the aftermath of the All Blacks captain's career-defining moment at Eden Park, his coach provided a more realistic insight into what the indefatigable No 7 had been through over the last six or seven weeks.

"He's buggered now, he can hardly walk," said Graham Henry, as he basked in the glow of his world champion status. "How he's played I've got no idea. He'll have to take some time out of the game to get that right. I don't know how long it will take.
"He played on heart and determination alone."

McCaw has essentially refused to acknowledge his problem right foot throughout the tournament. That's the type of bloke he is. Excuses are not for All Black captains. Especially not this one.

He hasn't been able to train throughout the knockout phase. But there was never an ounce of doubt that he would miss a game. The nation fretted. The captain just did what he had to do.
"He's the guy we all look to when we need him," said No 8 Kieran Read, who did what he could to pick up some of the slack for his hobbled skip. "He's had that role throughout the week to really keep us on edge and make sure we prepare as well as we can.
"Just the ticker of the man. I don't think many guys would be able to hobble around all week and come out here and do the job on a stage like this."

Henry has nothing but admiration for his 103-test captain who delivered him the "inner peace" he was so desperate to find.

"He's a very experienced leader and talented leader and has developed into probably the best leader this country has ever had - or one of them anyway. He has led this country in 60-odd test matches, and has got stronger and stronger and is a great inspiration to the rest of the team."
Many believe Sunday night's triumph now places McCaw alongside Colin Meads and one or two others as the very finest of All Blacks.

Henry brokers no argument there. "Winning a World Cup completes it. It puts the icing on everything that's been done. It rules off for a lot people in this group who have been together for a long time. It just gives you a bit of peace."
"He's been awesome," added flanker Jerome Kaino. "He hasn't been able to train, but he's out there on the paddock when the heat's on and comes up with the right calls and gives the boys a lot of composure."

McCaw had some special words post-game about unlikely hero Stephen Donald and the Waikato pivot was happy to reciprocate them when asked about McCaw's importance in this triumph.

"You'll see him hobbling round now, he's not right, the foot is not right. But to go out and do what he does is just massive. He just turns up, and I don't think there's too many more inspirational men around than Richie McCaw."

In a funny sort of way the injury he had to grit the teeth and play through has made McCaw's crowning achievement even more special.

Great men find a way to overcome adversity. And there can no longer be any doubt that McCaw is among the greatest of them all.

- Stuff

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