Richie McCaw to become world’s most-capped rugby player
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Richie McCaw will become rugby’s most-capped test player when he takes the field for New Zealand against Australia at Eden Park on Saturday but says he won’t let the personal milestone obscure team goals.
McCaw will play his 142nd test in the Bledisloe Cup encounter, moving ahead of former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll who played 141.
The match is also likely to be his last for the All Blacks in New Zealand. McCaw has strongly hinted, but not confirmed, that he will retire after the Rugby World Cup this year.
The 34-year-old flanker made his test debut in 2001 and was a member of the All Blacks team which reclaimed the Bledisloe Cup from Australia in 2003. They have held it ever since, and McCaw will be determined to ensure his likely final home test is not tarnished by an Australian victory which would end New Zealand’s 12-year hold on the trophy.
“One thing I haven’t allowed is to get caught up in (the record) because I really wanted to train as well as I could to play well on Saturday,” McCaw said. “When you have that focus you don’t get caught up in those what-might-be’s.”
New Zealand’s long hold on the Bledisloe Cup was put in jeopardy by last week’s 27-19 loss to the Wallabies in Sydney.
“When you have a loss like last week it makes you want to play even more,” McCaw said. “The key is to let it fuel you.”
McCaw has played 35 of his 141 tests against Australia — more than any player has played against one nation — and the All Blacks have won 27 of those matches. He has also made 105 appearances as captain, another world record.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen described McCaw as “probably the greatest player to have played the game in the modern era.”
“Not too many guys get through their career without getting badly injured,” Hansen said. “There’s a high work-rate involved in playing at openside flanker.
“The thing I marvel at about (McCaw) is the quality of performance week-in week-out is always well into the 90s (per cent).”
Hansen said the All Blacks had not concentrated this week on McCaw’s impending record.
“It hasn’t been spoken about in the group,” he said. “That’s the way he likes it and that’s the way we like it — putting’s the team first.”