• Richie McCaw calls end to 14-year glittering career
• He pays emotional tribute to Jonah Lomu
• 'I'm hanging up my boots having accomplished everything I could have ever dreamed about in the game'
READ MORE: The McCaw Big Read - Following the leader

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby.

The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time.

McCaw announced his decision at a media conference at the New Zealand Rugby offices in Wellington today.

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"I'm hanging up my boots having accomplished everything I could have ever dreamed about in the game. Knowing that I was able to end my career by helping the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup Final is a hugely satisfying feeling," he said.

"Professional rugby has been great to me. It's allowed me to pursue my passion, to be involved with great people, hopefully make those close to me proud and travel the world. I've had some wonderful experiences for which I'm very grateful and I'd like to thank New Zealand Rugby for the opportunities they have given me."

"I'd also like to thank the fans who have supported me, both here and overseas. Your unwavering and passionate support for myself and the other players has always given us a huge lift, wherever we have played. We play the game to make you proud and I hope I have managed to do that over the years."

McCaw said he would now be concentrating on his business, personal sponsorship and charity interests.

McCaw said the last two weeks had given him a chance to reflect. Photo / Mark Mitchell
McCaw said the last two weeks had given him a chance to reflect. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"I am heavily involved in the Christchurch Helicopters company, they are great people and I'm excited about the opportunities there. Aviation is something I'm passionate about, I'm going to carry on flying and work towards getting my commercial pilot licence.

"The iSport Foundation charity, which I set up with Dan Carter and Ali Williams, also gives us the opportunity to help talented teenagers reach their potential in their chosen sport, which is a cool way for us to give back.

"I'm now really excited about starting the next chapter of my life. I'm looking forward to the future and what it may hold."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen remembered a young McCaw turning up to the Canterbury academy.

He was good at "pinching the ball" but "couldn't catch, couldn't pass and couldn't run".

"But he had a massive desire to be good," he said.

McCaw said he'd love to be involved in the game in the future. He never considered taking up a professional contract overseas after his international days were over.

"For whatever reason I've always said if I felt like I could play professional rugby, I want to play here because I love playing here.

"Going to play rugby just because you want to earn a fat cheque, it just didn't spin my wheels."

Hansen remembered seeing McCaw play for the first time in a schoolboy match at Lancaster Park.

He told Steve Tew, then in charge of Canterbury rugby, to sign him.

But he was from Otago and the two unions had an agreement not to poach each other's players. But then Otago stole one and Canterbury swooped.

Hansen said Lomu was probably rugby's first global star.

"I don't think he was our greatest player but I think that was because of his illness, but he was a phenomenal athlete and could do things that others couldn't do," Hansen said.

"It's been a sad year because we have lost Jerry (Collins) and Norm Berryman."

McCaw said he wasn't sure if he should go ahead with today's announcement, given the news about Lomu.

"I didn't think we'd get it right either way really. The last thing I wanted was to be disrespect(ful) or anything to do with that.

"It was a chance to acknowledge and pass our sympathies on to his family firstly."

McCaw said Lomu was a giant of the game and was probably bigger overseas than at home.

He was a great man and great All Black, McCaw said.

McCaw remembered watching Lomu at the 1995 World Cup and the impact that had on him.

Lomu's deeds were one of the main reasons money came into rugby.

McCaw also remembered his first game against Lomu where twice he tried to tackle him. He never got close.

"Had he been 100 per cent fit and not having to battle through (illness) I just wonder what he could have done and that's scary."

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