Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Man of 'mana' McCaw ready to become first All Blacks centurion

Dubbed as a person of great leadership, Richie McCaw, the captain, is ready to earn his 100th cap against France at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.

WELLINGTON // Denied his 100-cap coronation by a calf strain that ruled him out of New Zealand's match against Japan, the captain Richie McCaw will be primed to celebrate the milestone in style against Rugby World Cup nemesis France on Saturday.

Barring another unforeseen niggle, the soft-spoken 30 year old will become the first to play 100 Tests for the All Blacks when he runs out on Eden Park where home fans can be expected to pay glowing tribute to their revered rugby team's skipper.

McCaw is regarded in New Zealand as a man of "mana", a person of great leadership. The Maori term encapsulates notions of authority, influence, prestige and honour.

It is rarely bestowed on people lightly, and in rugby circles even less.

"He's a special player, a special man and inspirational to the country," All Blacks Henry said in Auckland today after naming his side to play France. "Not only inspirational to this rugby team but an inspiration to New Zealanders.

"He's a world class player. He's been the IRB Player of the Year on three occasions, which has never happened before. He's brave and he's highly intelligent and he's an inspiration to the players he plays with."

Not that the fuss-free flanker basks in the adulation. McCaw rarely appears comfortable when talked about and even less when talking about himself.

The man who grew up on a family farm in south Canterbury would prefer to do his talking on the field, said Henry.

"He's the most experienced captain this country has ever had. The one prior to that was Sean Fitzpatrick and he was the same and got better and better as he got older," he added.

"Richie like Sean is one our great captains and ... they are similar, they set standards, they lead by example, they don't talk too much. When they talk people listen."

Andy Ellis, the All Blacks scrum-half, played much of his rugby under McCaw for both Canterbury and the Super 15 rugby side the Crusaders.

"He's got real mana in the team," Ellis said ahead of the All Blacks' win over Japan. "When we get to training, he's always the first one out there, warming up, sprinting, doing lengths.

"It makes you want to get out there as well. It's just what he does and he makes no excuses. That, to me, is the sign of a great leader."

McCaw will bid to join the exclusive club of captains that have led their sides to World Cup glory, including England's Martin Johnson (2003), South Africa's John Smit (2007) and John Eales of Australia (1999).

"It's a real honour for me to play the [100th] game with him," said fellow loose forward Adam Thomson. "[But] don't think for one minute that playing 100 games means as much for him as seeing this team succeed in this tournament.

"That's the sort of character he is."

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Yuvraj Singh, left, and Virat Kohli of Royal Challengers Bangalore celebrating after they won their IPL match against Delhi Daredevils at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 action at Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s power-hitters laid down a marker at the first opportunity in IPL 2014 as they cruised past a hapless Delhi Daredevils with eight wickets, 20 deliveries, and about three more gears to spare in front of a packed house at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday, April 17, 2014.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.

 Chris Burch will play fly-half as part of a new-look back line for the UAE national rugby union team that will face Singapore at The Sevens grounds in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Chris Burch to lead UAE’s charge against Singapore

he UAE’s bid to safeguard their place in the second tier of Asian rugby against Singapore next week will be piloted by a player who was contemplating retirement from the sport at this time last year.

 Opening performance during Day 3 of the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the First Gulf Bank Arena at Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al-Marzooqi/ The National

In pictures: Day 3 of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship

All the action from Day 3 of the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the First Gulf Bank Arena at Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi.

 Atletico Madrid's Cristian Rodriguez, second left, celebrates his goal with team mates, and coach Diego Simeone, third right. Atletico are on the cusp of a Primer Liga title. AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

Atletico Madrid look to edge towards Primera Liga title before Chelsea visit

Diego Simeone's men need to win just four of their five remaining games to seal the Primera Liga championship and they take on Elche before the first leg of their Uefa Champions League semi-final against Chelsea on Tuesday.

 Jorginho accepts the challenge that lies ahead for Al Wasl's improvement, and the club says it will give him time ... if they see results.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Wasl will give Jorginho time but results in Arabian Gulf League are needed

Al Wasl officials said they will provide Jorginho, their new coach, sufficient time to change the club’s fortunes while also warning that his fate ultimately will depend on results.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National