Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: McCaw needs to head for the hills

Pick a spot - Curacao perhaps or a hike into Motuo County in China.

You'd guess that Richie McCaw will take himself off somewhere without any great rugby connections as part of his sabbatical, which starts after the All Blacks test with England on Sunday.

Half his fun will be planning his expeditions. There may be a gliding theme to incorporate his other great passion or, like Conrad Smith, he might sling the pack on and head into some new ground in Central and South America.

McCaw's 116th test at Twickenham on Sunday will be his last until the Rugby Championship next year.

That's the plan, although there are all sorts of variables that will come into play.

McCaw may fall deeply in love with another part of the world, or a woman in that region, and decide he is done with rugby.

Harder to comprehend but still possible, his open-side successor may play so well in the three June tests against France that McCaw cannot get back in.

Or the All Black-captain-on-hold may suffer some injury in his comeback and not be available.

What he can do after Twickenham is rest his body and have any tidy-up surgery he may need. But his target is R&R before he heads back to the gym to get in shape to play some club rugby in June.

"Yeah, there will be six months of the year when I'm sitting watching," he mused. "Physically, people talk about that, but I don't think that is a problem. I think it is just to refresh a bit. I suppose I have been on the treadmill for a while now and to get a chance to have a break and freshen up and get a good bit of training so I turn up in better shape than I am at the moment - that will be the goal.

"I want to get back and carry on playing for as long as I can, as long as these guys want me in the team and I can perform."

There were risks but it was the right thing to do. McCaw knew what it was like to watch games and he did not like it, but his mind needed a recharge after its recent rigours.

Coach Steve Hansen hoped his captain did not watch any rugby.

"I hope he packs a bag with bugger all in it, disappears and goes somewhere where no one knows anything about rugby and he is left alone to be Richie McCaw rather than Richie McCaw the captain."

McCaw had a huge workload through the World Cup year and this season. He gave his time generously outside his sport but he needed a break from the "big bubble" he lived in. He needed time to himself and to enjoy life without being in the constant public spotlight.

"I'm not sure where he might be able to go where no one knows him, but we will do a bit of research and buy him a ticket," Hansen said.

- NZ Herald

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