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McCaw left the strong impression that he was thoroughly enjoying life after playing rugby. He is keeping up his fitness, having decided it was better to do that than starting from scratch again. Watching his fiancé Gemma Flynn, the New Zealand hockey player, prepare for the Olympics made it impossible to "sit there and do nothing".
One of the reasons he had shunned overseas playing offers was a desire not to break connections and lose post-rugby opportunities he had forged in this country. "(Overseas) money wasn't the right reason...I wanted to get on with something else."
And in another hint that rugby would remain on the backburner, having more time to indulge his well-known passion for flying was giving him enjoyment which almost matched what he experienced in rugby. His aims included working towards his commercial helicopter licence.
In typical McCaw fashion, he emphasised that rugby was a team game when asked about being named New Zealander of the Year.
He told Hosking that it was tough to compare what he did with the other nominees, sexual violence campaigner Louise Nicholas and businessman and environmentalist Rob Fenwick. "Louise and Rob, what they've done is pretty cool. I said last night 'I've only been a rugby player'. I must say it's pretty humbling."
Image 1 of 21: DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 19: A copy of a photograph showing Tom Palmer, (front row 4th R) the England lock, who used to play for the Otago Boys High School XV,during an England IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 school visit to Otago Boys High School on September 19, 2011 in Dunedin, New Zealand. Richie McCaw, the present All Black captain is also pictured, middle row (3rd L). (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)