Should Richie McCaw retire?
Off the long run
OPINION: Richie McCaw has been an outstanding player for the All Blacks over his career and will go down in history as one of our greatest.
In his prime he was an absolute menace at the breakdown, managing to get his teams plenty of valuable turnover ball.
Over the years he has also developed into a fantastic leader and it doesn't get much better than leading his side to a world cup win. But the question has to be asked now, is it time for him to hang up his boots, at least as a number seven?
Sure, as a leader he is better than ever but as a player he is no longer a premier openside flanker. Right through the year he has consistently had some of the worst hands in the team, Steve Hansen noting this in the post match interview after one of the Irish tests.
In the recent Scottish test New Zealand struggled at the kickoff as the ball was kicked in McCaw's direction almost every time. Though this isn't the biggest concern with McCaw's play.
This would have to be his ability to get breakdown turnovers. Just looking at the past two tests the All Blacks have struggled for long periods to get their hands on the ball and, although this is not completely McCaw's, fault you need your openside flanker to be able to turn you over the ball at least sometimes.
Heinrich Brussow manages to do it for South Africa and David Pocock for Australia, while the All Blacks have been relying on mistakes to get the ball back resulting in less the possession.McCaw has been running the ball strongly and still makes a large number of tackles, and in the rugby championship this was what led him to be talked up and receive a man of the match award.
Maybe a move to blindside flanker is the best option for him, at least giving the chance to blood a new 'fetcher'. Otherwise, perhaps, it is time for him to retire. He has too much mana and respect to be dropped from the side, meaning it is completely in his hands. But what is there left for him to achieve?
You only have to look across the ditch to Ricky Ponting to see what can happen to your legacy if you continue to play the game you love too long.
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