Sir Richie McCaw just doesn't seem right - yet

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 08:28 08/11/2011
Richie McCaw
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SIR RICHIE?: All Blacks captain doesn't need the title yet.

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OPINION: It's too early to be thinking about knighting Richie McCaw - give the gong to Graham Henry instead.

We wait to see if Prime Minister John Key was speaking in jest when he said McCaw would be Sir Richie if the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup. But there have already been suggestions that move is in the pipeline for the New Year honours list.

At the age of 30 and with a new four-year contract set to begin, it seems awkward to knight him while he's still running around with sprigs on.

I reckon McCaw might think the same way.

Would he be comfortable in the dressing room with the tag of "Sir" attached to him?

Would it be right for referees to be addressing the New Zealand captain that way?

McCaw is already such a marked man - think the World Cup final against France - that it seems preposterous to put another target on his forehead for opposition players to line up, take a cheap shot and declare: "I slayed the knight."

McCaw may well be deserving of the honour some time down the line, but not right now.

At the age of 50, David Kirk, the first All Blacks captain to lift the World Cup and a man who has become something of a visionary in the business world, is still waiting.

McCaw has rugby longevity on his side compared to Kirk. The first All Black to reach 100 tests is a significant milestone and it appears there is no end it sight for the No 7. But that's why it would be more appropriate to at least wait till his playing days are over.

And that's why handing a knighthood to Henry would be more appropriate right now considering he has just retired as All Blacks coach.

Eight long years and 103 tests have brought every piece of silverware there is to win to the New Zealand Rugby Union trophy cabinet.

The World Cup capped a remarkable career at the pinnacle of coaching, a career that also included being the first foreigner to coach Wales and the British & Irish Lions as well as being a dominant force in Super Rugby with the Blues and the NPC and Ranfurly Shield with Auckland.

The precedent has already been set with Clive Woodward picking up his gong in the wake of England's sole World Cup success in 2003. Henry has a far superior coaching record to Sir Clive.

It's significant that Martin Johnson, Woodward's long-serving England captain, was handed a CBE award in the wake of his World Cup victory rather than a knighthood.

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