The question is not whether Richie McCaw was offered a gong in the New Year Honours but whether he has accepted it - and more than half of New Zealanders believe he should.

Prime Minister John Key has all but confirmed that McCaw has been offered a knighthood or other high honour after he led the All Blacks this year to a second consecutive Rugby World Cup win.

On New Year's Eve the country will find out whether McCaw has accepted the offer, now that he has retired from professional rugby, after ruling it out in 2011 because he did not feel it was appropriate while he was still playing.

In a Herald-DigiPoll survey, 55 per cent said McCaw should accept a knighthood now and only 11 per cent said he should reject it. A further 19 per cent said he should wait until he was older, while 14.5 per cent did not know.

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After the 2011 RWC tournament, Key revealed he discussed a knighthood but McCaw did not want to take it while his playing career was under way. This month's poll shows a large increase in support for a knighthood for McCaw since then. In a Herald DigiPoll survey after the All Blacks won that tournament, only 39 per cent said they believed McCaw should be knighted for winning the RWC.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the case could be made for McCaw, 35, to get the highest honour in the land and made a member of the Order of New Zealand. That is limited to 20 living New Zealanders at any time and there are currently 18 ordinary members, leaving two places open.

"I think given the scale of his achievements and what he has come to represent, it would be more fitting for him to be considered for membership of the Order of New Zealand."

Mr Little said it was to recognise unique and special contributions to New Zealand and if it existed when Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Everest it was likely he would have been appointed a member of the ONZ then.

"[McCaw] is known worldwide, not only for sporting achievements but as a leader and an ambassador for New Zealand and I think he fits the criteria."

Dame Susan Devoy also spoke about the issue in 2011, saying in general she did not believe people should be given such honours solely for sporting achievements. However, she expected one of the All Blacks would be honoured "and Sir Richie's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"

The Herald Digipoll survey of 750 eligible voters taken from 4-14 December has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 per cent.