Wynne Gray on sport

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Please say it ain't 'Sir', Richie

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Despite a damaged and painful right foot, Richie McCaw was at the core of the Webb Ellis Cup victory. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Despite a damaged and painful right foot, Richie McCaw was at the core of the Webb Ellis Cup victory. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Three months off is the minimum reward Richie McCaw deserves after his World Cup heroics.

The All Black captain was operating on one gammy peg but he was the core of the All Blacks drive for the Webb Ellis Cup. He was the one urging his troops on, throwing his body into combat that anyone else with his injury would have avoided.

His body let him down but his willpower made up for those deficiencies. Anyone who watched him sag into his cubicle seat at Eden Park long after the medals ceremony, could see the toll the tournament had exacted. McCaw was spent, even his great motor was spluttering.

He is heading for repeat surgery to correct the bone damage in his right foot.

While there have been many laudatory messages delivered since the World Cup about McCaw, his men and the coaching crew who masterminded their campaign, none seemed quite as dizzy as the concept that McCaw should receive a knighthood.

Some like Sir Richard Hadlee and Sir Russell Coutts have received that sort of honour while still continuing their sporting careers. Dame Susan Devoy was honoured after she retired and for services to squash and her Halberg Trust work.

There are strong murmurs McCaw will get a knighthood in the New Year's Honours List. If he receives a letter urging his acceptance he may struggle to put a cross in the decline with thanks box.

He managed to do that for the wedding of Kate and Wills this year but that was in the middle of his rugby comeback. A knighthood invitation is very different although a number of people have turned them down and it's fair to think McCaw would feel uneasy about such an bestowal - at this stage of his career anyway.

McCaw has achieved many great feats in his decorated career and, if his foot surgery is straightforward, there should be several more for the captain who has worn the black No 7 jersey with such consistent distinction.

He has been outstanding in his chosen career.

For many people, sport - and certainly a World Cup triumph - is more uplifting than providing a pathway out of the nation's economic troubles.

The spike in the nation's psyche was felt under Eden Park and throughout the country on October 23 and beyond. McCaw and his team had done themselves and the nation proud.

He is an extremely gifted rugby player and deserves to be feted for that.

But when men like Sir Colin Meads and Sir Brian Lochore talk about feeling slightly uncomfortable about their titles which they had bestowed in their mature years, you sense they would have felt even more uneasy had they been honoured at McCaw's age.

McCaw, his All Black side and their coaches always talk about the lack of an "i" in team and singling out McCaw for special attention would break that collective ethos.

However, there will be pressure to recognise the side and their deeds, so perhaps an "arise Sir Ted" investiture would cover those bases.

- NZ Herald

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