Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: McCaw shy of his high standards

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw against England. Photo / Brett Phibbs
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw against England. Photo / Brett Phibbs

One nondescript performance is not enough to start drawing a line under Richie McCaw's remarkable All Black career.

Another dud in Dunedin will have the alarm bells ringing however, and at this point in his long, punishing career it is hard to be overly confident that the great man will get up off the canvas no matter how much we hope that he does.

McCaw doesn't do extremely ordinary, which is what he was at Eden Park where England Lite's well organised ball protection left him fighting losing battles on the ground. This in turn highlighted his ineffective ball running, especially in comparison to counterpart Chris Robshaw.

There was a fabulous kick-off reception to seal the victory, but little else to say one of the best rugby players of all time was playing.

His captaincy didn't shine either although scrutiny of this was muted by the victory. The All Blacks meandered along, tactically and general enthusiasm-wise.

With the heroic 2011 World Cup performance gleaming atop his CV, it's hard to see McCaw clinging on if that is all he is doing.

As he disappeared into the low-rent Eden Park stare-down like a Hollywood legend turning up with a bit part on the Love Boat, you wondered how it might come to an end for the finest All Black of them all.

McCaw has carried the game in this country to some extent; his selfless attitude, stunning ability and longevity quietly dominating the landscape with a mundanity that is New Zealand rugby's default position.

There has never been a bad headline or a word out of place.

McCaw the footballer has been matched to McCaw the man.

World Cup hiccups aside, his career has been as close as you get to perfect yet weirdly dull.

He should have been THE story of the last World Cup, the impossible-to-replace leader who drove himself and his team to redemption and glory on a smashed foot. But when faced with the McCaw persona and our standard issue sense of duty about the national game, it was hard to make much of that either.

With the historic cup final try being scored by another get-on-with-the-job character - the classic farm boy Tony Woodcock - Stephen Donald's wobbly penalty has had to travel much more impressively than it did that night.

If McCaw doesn't continue, Kieran Read's health situation has thrown a shadow over the captaincy succession. The truth about football concussions is finding its way to the surface - once badly concussed, players are susceptible to repeat problems with serious consequences. The captaincy could turn into a crisis for Steve Hansen. Will McCaw make the next World Cup? It is probably a 50/50 call for now.

Let's liven it up a bit please
A message to the New Zealand and England rugby teams: you've already used up your quota of boring.


The close scoreline and resulting tension at Eden Park saved the day, but action and drama is needed now. That oval object is designed to be chucked around, preferably to each other.

Kick and clap went out of fashion ages ago.

- NZ Herald

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Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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