NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - MAGNIFICENT SEVEN -

PO­SI­TION: Flanker AGE ON DE­BUT: 20 AGE WHEN FIRST CAP­TAIN: 23 CAPS BE­FORE BE­COM­ING CAP­TAIN: 24 TESTS AS CAP­TAIN: 101 TO­TAL CAPS: 137 KEY QUAL­I­TIES: World Class player. In­tel­li­gent. Com­posed. Con­nected. Flex­i­ble in his think­ing. Man of the peo­ple. Deep un­der­stand­ing of the brain. In­cred­i­ble work ethic and dis­ci­pline.

The McCaw prin­ci­ple of cap­taincy be­gins with his role as player. To be a good cap­tain, he says he has to be the best player and for most, prob­a­bly all of his ca­reer, that’s been the case.

McCaw has been an out­stand­ing open­side since his first test. Few would dis­pute that he has been the best No 7 New Zealand has pro­duced. He can’t match the ath­leti­cism of Michael Jones, but he’s taken brav­ery, com­mit­ment, de­ter­mi­na­tion and work ethic to new lev­els.

McCaw pulls off an in­cred­i­ble num­ber of tack­les and turnovers; he’s an im­proved ball car­rier and his sheer de­sire en­ables him to be overly in­flu­en­tial.

As a cap­tain he brings in­tel­li­gence. He brings his in­cred­i­ble stand­ing in the game which gives him ac­cess to ref­er­ees. He brings an in­ner calm and a deep un­der­stand­ing of how the brain works un­der pres­sure. That’s maybe the crit­i­cal of­fer­ing of McCaw – he knows how to stay con­nected men­tally and to keep those around him task fo­cused.

How many times have the All Blacks won late in the piece in re­cent years? How many times has the cause seemed lost only for McCaw to be still charg­ing around, still calmly ask­ing his play­ers to trust in the process and be­lieve they can win?

Those who know McCaw best say he is driven in a way no one else has been. He is first off the bus at train­ing and first onto the field. He works harder than any­one else and his stan­dards never slip. Re­ally...they never slip. He doesn’t have bad days where he cuts corners or takes a rest. And then of course there is his ex­pe­ri­ence – more than 100 tests as cap­tain – he’s lived through about ev­ery sce­nario imag­in­able which is why noth­ing fazes him.

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