Wynne Gray: Hansen makes a bold call: McCaw is better than Jones

Add a comment

When someone regularly peels off superb feats it is easy to take his quality for granted. All Black captain Richie McCaw is at the top of that category.

Now Steve Hansen of the All Blacks coaching panel has paid the All Black captain the highest honour, saying he is better than the great Michael Jones.

It might seem obscene to canonise McCaw after the opening Iceberg Test but his prowess against Ireland in an All Black forward push was as dominant as the blitz he launched against the Wallabies in Brisbane in 2006.

That night he had what residue the sun had left to fuel his work but this time he was competing in conditions far more suited to polar life. After the wind and rain came the perishing cold, but McCaw was ruthless.

His authority will be a recurring nightmare to the Irish, as it was seven years ago when he starred in a man of the match All Black debut at Lansdowne Rd. It was no different for the All Black captain on Saturday in his 60th test as he smothered then overwhelmed the Irish. Forwards coach Hansen has seen McCaw from his early days in Canterbury then through a large chunk of his All Blacks career. He has no doubt.

"He is the greatest number seven New Zealand has ever had and that is saying something. Michael Jones and Josh Kronfeld were world-class and this guy probably heads them off.

"It is not only his longevity, he is a good link player, a good ground player like Kronfeld was and just a complete athlete. He can do anything."

During the Super 14 play-offs McCaw was outstanding and it was unfair to believe he would repeat those deeds against Ireland. But he was just as good.

It is remarkable that his body withstands the panelbeating it bears each week while his drive to succeed in the toughest of cauldrons is inspirational.

McCaw's influence was underlined when frustrated Irish prop Marcus Horan took an injudicious swing at McCaw at a maul. It was the highest compliment to the All Black captain.

On countless occasions you had to check if it was McCaw who had smacked into another tackle, charged out of a ruck with the ball or scavenged another ball from a breakdown - an area of the game where the All Blacks dominated 94-73.

He rocked Denis Leamy with a tackle which dislodged the ball then rolled Paul O'Connell onto his back like a turtle for his mates to rush in and claim the turnover.

How he was so accurate in the rain, the wind and the cold was an extraordinary tribute to his fitness, skill level and concentration. How he had any energy left to throw out instructions as he led the All Black defensive line was also bewildering.

The way McCaw plays he should have no breath left. He is the ultimate competitor, the warrior without whom the All Blacks would truly struggle.

The worry is how long McCaw can keep repeating. His beak is bent from a high shot last season from Phil Waugh, his fingers are taped from numerous dislocations, his body scarred from legitimate and cheap shots.

But the 27-year-old is massively resilient. He contradicts arguments about the players' need for rest. In the nicest way, McCaw is a freak.

His actions matched his pre-game rhetoric.

The All Black captain made sure Ireland didn't overturn 103 years of history between the two countries.

- NZ Herald

Your views

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 28 Dec 2014 14:03:03 Processing Time: 500ms