Richie McCaw's epic All Blacks career has been captured in a lavish retrospective book by the former captain.
Titled Richie McCaw 148 as a nod to the record number of tests he played before retiring after last year's successful World Cup defence, the book features more than 500 photographs chronicling the inspiring skipper's entire All Blacks career.
McCaw has penned close to 50,000 words, detailing each of the tests he has played.
Produced by Mower Publications, the book weighs in at a hefty 3kg and devotes two pages to each of McCaw's tests, beginning withhis debut against Ireland in Dublinin 2001 and encompassing the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cup triumphs.
The three-time World Player of the Year also discusses the concussions and other injuries he suffered during his stellar career.
The book is on sale from today at $69.99.
Here, we publish an extract in which McCaw discusses his decision to retire after the 2015 World Cup final.
I always knew the day would come when I would have to hang up my boots. It's the one thing that is guaranteed when you are a professional rugby player, and I wanted it to be on my terms and at the right time. The question for me was when is the right time?
When playing for your country there is a huge amount of expectation, intensity and pressure. As an All Black you cannot afford to have an off day and it's not just about the game on Saturday. After a good performance I'd be in the changing room wanting to sit back, relax and enjoy the moment, but often my immediate thoughts would turn to the next week and I would think, I've got to do this all over again. This environment was what drove me and it also ensured I got to Saturday ready so I could pull on the jersey and enjoy the battle.
The final decision to retire came after my last game in 2015, but there was plenty of thought that went into it, especially throughout my final year. I could never get enough of the thrill of pulling on the jersey and running out in front of thousands of people, and that is what I will always miss.
However, there were odd moments throughout that year when the intensity and pressure that come each week started to get to me a little. Every team we played was desperate for an All Blacks scalp, and the effort required to be ready to play was getting harder.
I was lucky not to have many major injuries throughout my career but, like most players, I had my fair share of niggly ones to deal with. Early on they were relatively easy to manage as I was hungry to get back on the field and didn't let them get to me too much. Towards the latter part of my career, these same injuries became more frustrating and harder to deal with, and this also contributed to making the weeks tougher as time went on.
I've always believed that if my mind was in the right space my body would follow. During my final year there was the odd moment when I felt the desire and hunger starting to flicker. Although this didn't affect my performances, it was an indication that the time to make my decision would soon follow.
My final moment as an All Black was at Twickenham, and deep down I knew this was it. I remember thinking briefly after the final whistle, Jeez, this really is it. But that thought passed quickly and there was no way I was going to be sad. Instead, I embraced the occasion as I was determined to enjoy my final hours in the jersey.
Seeing my family after we had won was special. My partner Gemma, Mum and Dad, my sister Jo and her husband Sam had all made the trip over to watch the tournament. It was great having them there and being able to share the moment.
Then there was the jersey. I just didn't want to take it off. I knew once I did that would be the last time I'd ever wear it. I even walked across the car park to the press conference still in my full playing kit - boots and all. It seemed like a bit of a silly thing to do looking back, but I remember thinking, Who cares? This is my last time and I'm going to enjoy it for as long as I can.
When we were in the sheds celebrating, we all had a great time and those memories are something that will stay with me forever. The players who were leaving got up and spoke, and we were able to enjoy the moment and reflect on what we had achieved.
I have no regrets and no second thoughts. I am content in the knowledge that I have done the job as best I can and now it is someone else's time. I look back on this chapter hugely satisfied and have some great memories, but I am just as excited for what the next chapter holds and I will always cherish my time in the black jersey.
Published by Mower Books
(an imprint of Upstart Press), RRP $69.99