Richie McCaw quiet on retirement talk before final

Tomorrow's Twickenham showdown will be Richie McCaw's 148th and possibly last Test match. Picture: Getty

Tomorrow's Twickenham showdown will be Richie McCaw's 148th and possibly last Test match. Picture: Getty

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It is widely expected that Richie McCaw will retire after tomorrow’s World Cup final against Australia, and yet New Zealand’s decorated captain is still refusing to make an announcement.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen continually hails McCaw as “the game’s greatest-ever captain”, and the 34-year-old can cement that status by retaining the Webb Ellis Cup this weekend.

In refusing to admit tomorrow’s Twickenham showdown will be his 148th and final Test, and last turn in rugby, McCaw took the art of captaincy to the nth degree.

McCaw is simply so dogmatic in his captaincy that he cannot ever countenance the merest whiff of placing his personal situation ahead of the collective.

“I haven’t announced anything really,” said McCaw, when asked if the World Cup final is his last game of professional rugby. “I’ve purposely not got into that because I didn’t want to get all hung up on what could be.

“I have to make a decision when I get home. I’ve been told there’s a spot at the Crusaders if I really want it.

“I just want to play this weekend, and the tournament before that, the best that I can. You still play as though you’ve got years ahead.

“I’ve made no secret that I have to reflect after this, but I just have to get this week right.”

Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Keven Mealamu have long since accepted the end of the World Cup as their All Blacks finish line.

McCaw explained his evasive tactics as little more than refusing to let his mind go soft, as he hones in on making history as the first captain the lift the Webb Ellis Cup twice in succession.

“That’s what we’re here to do,” said McCaw of New Zealand’s trophy quest. “If at the end of six weeks you get that opportunity then that’s what you’re after.

“I haven’t allowed myself to think even one second past the final whistle. That allows in thoughts that are unhelpful for the game. If we do our best we’ll give ourselves an opportunity.

“If we get that performance right that will be something that would be pretty nice to do.”

McCaw added: “You grow up wanting to be an All Black. I remember the first time I did it I just didn’t want that moment to end. Once you get past that it’s about leaving some of yourself in that jersey. That’s what being an All Black requires, you add to what’s gone before you, you don’t want to let it down. I’ve loved every time I’ve got to do that.”

New Zealand head coach Hansen hailed insists McCaw’s leadership has grown ever since New Zealand crashed out of the 2007 World Cup quarter-final with 20-18 defeat to France in Cardiff.

“He’s probably the greatest player we’ve ever had play the game, certainly for New Zealand,” said Hansen. “In my mind leaders aren’t made, they are grown. You’re not born a leader, you learn through your experiences, and a lot of those can be negative, that you have to learn pretty sharply from.

“He copped a lot of flak in 2007, he’s grown through that adversity. He is now one of the great leaders of all time.”

NEW ZEALAND

15. Ben Smith

14. N Milner-Skudder

13. Conrad Smith

12. Ma’a Nonu

11. Julian Savea

10. Daniel Carter

9. Aaron Smith

1. Joe Moody

2. Dane Coles

3. Owen Franks

4.Brodie Retallick

5. Sam Whitelock

6.Jerome Kaino

7. Richie McCaw (c)

8. Kieran Read

Subs

16. Keven Mealamu

17. Ben Franks

18. C Faumuina

19. Victor Vito

20. Sam Cane

21. T Kerr-Barlow

22. Beauden Barrett

23. Sonny Bill Williams

AUSTRALIA

15. Israel Folau

14. A Ashley-Cooper

13. Tevita Kuridrani

12. Matt Giteau

11.Drew Mitchell

10. Bernard Foley

9. Will Genia

1. Scott Sio

2. Stephen Moore (c)

3. Sekope Kepu

4. Kane Douglas

5. Rob Simmons

6. Scott Fardy

7. Michael Hooper

8. David Pocock

Subs

16. T Polota-Nau

17. James Slipper

18. Greg Holmes

19. Dean Mumm

20. Ben McCalman

21. Nick Phipps

22. Matt Toomua

23. Kurtley Beale

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