NZ leader talks up renewed knighthood offer for All Black

AFP, WELLINGTON

Tue, Aug 18, 2015 - Page 18

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who is expected to retire following the Rugby World Cup, is to again be offered a knighthood to honor his illustrious career, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said yesterday.

McCaw turned down an offer to be knighted after leading the All Blacks to victory in the 2011 World Cup, saying it was not something he would consider while he was still playing.

However, as New Zealand celebrated his record 142nd Test when leading the All Blacks to a 41-13 win over Australia on Saturday, and with retirement expected in two months, Key said there was no doubt a second offer would be made.

“Whether he would take one, I do not know. The offer was there before and I cannot imagine anything has changed,” Key said.

McCaw has declined to talk about his future beyond the World Cup, which starts in England next month, but Graham Henry, who was knighted after coaching New Zealand to the 2011 World Cup crown, described him as a natural leader.

“He is very bright, very resourceful and very brave. You put all that together and players play for him. He leads from the front,” Henry said. “He knows he has to play well for them to play well. He understands what leadership is about. It is about doing rather than talking, he has got it all.”

Henry said he “would not be surprised” if McCaw resumed his studies once he retires. The 34-year-old was part-way through a degree in agricultural science before becoming a full-time rugby player.

He has since become the World Player of the Year three times, only lost 15 of 142 Tests played, and led New Zealand to win the World Cup four years ago while playing with a broken foot.