James Mortimer - (11/12/2011)
Captain Richie McCaw has reflected on improving as a player and continuing to make his mark as an All Black, saying that he will not spend the next four years of his career just ‘hanging round’.
McCaw – alongside Dan Carter – was re-signed by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) earlier this year to a four-season deal, a contract that was not only unprecedented for it’s length and flexibility, but for its dramatic stance in telling Europe that two of the best players in All Blacks recent history would not be for sale.
With a long injury layoff in front of him, McCaw, who was recognised with the award as the New Zealand Herald’s 'New Zealander of the Year', feels that despite winning the World Cup 8-7 over France with what was effectively a broken foot, he has more to offer.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said that McCaw’s presence in the game for the next four years would transcend the field, saying the most capped player in All Blacks history would help work through “challenges he understood”.Budding head coach Steve Hansen said to the NZ Herald he didn’t know if McCaw would be captain in 2015, but agreed his future influence would be to groom future leaders.
"If you look at it, can he get to four years? I don't think he knows that and I don't think any of us know that," Hansen said."What we do know is that he will be mentoring new leaders because we've already lost some overseas - Brad Thorn and Mils [Muliaina] for example."
"There will be opportunities over the next few years, for sure, to allow others to lead the side.”
"Regardless of whether he makes four years or not, Richie will mentor others. He's already passing on things to a guy like Kieran Read at the Crusaders. DC is also there and he's vice-captain. It's already happening. It's never been his way or the highway, it's our way."
McCaw modestly suggested he would hang up his boots if he was unable to fulfill the obligations of his All Blacks contract.
"Four years is definitely a long time, but I'm not going to hang around when I'm not good enough to be here," McCaw said. "I will move on before that and hopefully you know when that is."
However McCaw, ever the purist when it comes to the fine art of being a number seven, felt he could continue to expand the position and hoped he would remain at openside which he felt was his “best” position.
"I still believe that I can play better and I think I can evolve as a No7 too,” McCaw said."I've always said I would do whatever's right for whatever team I'm in, but I do think my best position is seven. I can play the other ones and if I have to do that, I have to do that."
"That's why I want to carry on playing, because I still think I can offer something. When I stop doing that, or stop enjoying it, I'll start doing something else."