Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Young Richie living the McCaw movie dream

Being Richie McCaw is every rugby fan's dream, but for Auckland 9-year-old Arlo Feeney, the dream has become reality.

The North Shore schoolboy is one of two lucky young actors to land "Young Richie" roles in the highly-anticipated film Chasing Great - the upcoming documentary promising never-before-seen insights into the life of the notoriously private former All Blacks captain and back-to-back Rugby World Cup winner.

Feeney, who plays McCaw during the ages of 7-12 in scenes which reconstruct how a kid from Christchurch would go on to rugby greatness, says playing his idol has been the best experience of his life - and one which has left his friends at Campbell's Bay School green with envy.

But, he says, the best experience is yet to come when Feeney finally gets to meet the great man himself on the red carpet at Tuesday's world premiere at Auckland's Civic Theatre.

"I've not met Richie. I saw him on one of the days on set but I didn't get to talk to him because I was filming," Feeney told the Herald on Sunday.

"I'm really excited to meet him at the premiere. But I don't exactly know what I'm going to say to him. I'm going to be very nervous."

Campbell's Bay School student Feeney, who has previously appeared in the American comedy series Ash Vs Evil Dead and been offered a role in Shortland Street, landed his first movie gig in March when his agent, Liz Baldwin-Featherstone, emailed the contract through to parents Nic and Peter - himself an established Kiwi actor and the one who spotted the opportunity.

"My dad told me there was a Richie McCaw movie coming out and asked if I wanted to audition for it," Feeney said.

"When I was told I had the role I was overjoyed, but then I got really nervous and excited.

"Playing Richie McCaw was a great experience. He is one of my very favourite rugby players and one of the best players of all time. Richie was a hard worker with a dream. And he turned that dream into a reality which proves if you're persistent you can achieve anything. And being an All Black is not easy."

Feeney's mother, Nic, said the speed at which the offer came through was unusual and seemed to be because her son bears a resemblance to a young McCaw.

"We were surprised he got the job without a recall, we think it's probably because he had the right 'look'," Nic Feeney said.

"They did add padding to Arlo to bulk him out a bit. And it was hard for the wardrobe girls to find rugby boots to fit his big feet because all the 80s retro boots were really hard, rigid leather. He loved the wardrobe part, getting to wear rugby jerseys just like Richie would have worn."

Stars of stage and screen, as well as current and former All Blacks, are expected to attend Tuesday night's premiere. Chasing Great is in cinemas from September 1.

- Herald on Sunday

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