Barry Soper: Top honour premature for McCaw

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This is going to sound like sacrilege, given our messianic obsession with rugby, but it's an observation genuinely made without malice. Rugby legend Ritchie McCaw's been inducted into the hallowed hall of this country's living greats.

There are just 20 seats available in the hall and McCaw, given his relative youth at 35, will likely be occupying one for many years to come. There is now just one vacancy, and they become available only after one of the incumbents shuffles off to be honoured in the afterlife, but with the oldest at 98 and a good number of them in their 80s turnover is assured.

McCaw's just under half the age of the person next to him, and there's a good reason for that.

The other 18 on the list have given a lifetime of service in the fields. There are several former Prime Ministers, religious and irreligious leaders like Cardinal Tom Williams and Lloyd Geering and Olympic great Murray Halberg - who went on to found the Foundation that bears his name and assists the physically disabled into sport.

The former All Black captain certainly has an impressive record, which includes two Rugby World Cups and being the most capped player (148 first class matches) in rugby union history.

His biggest fan - other than his family of course- is John Key, who first offered him a knighthood after his fumbled, three-way handshake when we won the cup in 2011. In his 'aw shucks' sort of a way, McCaw said he was too young to carry the title Sir and that was still his feeling when it was offered again after the win last year.

But the PM wasn't going to be put off and now it's Ritchie McCaw ONZ, inducted yesterday on to the honours board of the most esteemed living Kiwis.

READ MORE: Richie McCaw receives NZ's highest honour

Other than playing scintillating rugger and recently participating in the gruelling 550 kilometre Godzone race with the Cure Kids team, his activity outside the game is just beginning.

There's little doubt this man will give a lot back to this country in good deeds, but surely we should first have seen the deeds, and what contribution he will make, before bestowing this country's highest accolade on him.

Curmudgeon or common sense?

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