They called him a cheat, punched him, kneed him in the head and even nicknamed him "Richetty grub" - but all of a sudden Australia loves Richie McCaw.

Within 24 hours of going on sale tickets to see McCaw's documentary Chasing Great are selling out across the Tasman, as the nation which loves to hate the former All Blacks captain changes its tune.

Sydney will roll out the red carpet on Tuesday for the Australian premiere and even the men who bitterly battled McCaw on the park for years will be among the VIP guests, keen to catch a glimpse of the never-before-seen footage.

Former Wallaby George Gregan - the Australian captain who cruelly taunted McCaw and the All Blacks at the death of the 2003 Rugby World Cup semifinal with the infamous line "four more years boys, four more years" - will once again face his foe, albeit in very different circumstances.


Richard Payten, joint managing director of Transmission Films, which owns the distribution rights in New Zealand and Australia, says tickets for the Kiwi film are selling like hot cakes in rival territory.

"The premiere is across three cinemas. We put one on and the cinema said it sold out in record time, the second has almost sold out and the third is for invited guests only.

"We've got various sport stars and the like coming along, it's going to be a great night."

McCaw will attend the Sydney screening in person next week and while his fiancée Gemma Flynn won't join him, McCaw's manager Dean Hegan and movie co-directors Justin Pemberton and Michelle Walshe will also make the trip.

Prior to the screening former Wallaby Phil Kearns, who played 67 tests for his country, will join McCaw and Walshe on stage for a lunchtime panel discussion in front of a select group of guests.

Also on the guest list is Australian commentator Sean Maloney, the man who foolishly dismissed McCaw's talent just before the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.

In the run-up to the massive World Cup encounter between Australia and New Zealand at Twickenham, Maloney claimed just one All Black - Brodie Retallick - would make a combined NZ-AUS forward pack and just four Kiwis - Retallick, Ben and Aaron Smith and Julian Savea - would make the team at all.

Richie McCaw sharing a handshake with former Australian rival George Gregan at Eden Park. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Richie McCaw sharing a handshake with former Australian rival George Gregan at Eden Park. Photo / Brett Phibbs

McCaw, widely regarded as the greatest to have ever played the game, was completely overlooked by Maloney. The pundit was forced to eat his words as McCaw led the All Blacks to an emphatic 34-17 victory and a place in the history books as the first team to win back-to-back World Cups.

For the All Blacks the timing of Tuesday's McCaw premiere is impeccable, coming in the same week as the third Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park - as the boys in black look to complete a whitewash of the Wallabies and set a new record for the longest unbeaten streak in international rugby.

A massive amount of Australian-based New Zealanders, both public and VIPs, are also expected to attend, with UFC star Mark Hunt and actors Aaron Jeffery (X-Men Origins, McLeod's Daughters) and Robbie Magasiva (The Lord of the Rings, Shortland Street) also on the guest list.

After the premiere Chasing Great will only screen nationwide in Australia for three days on October 19, 22 and 23.

Released in New Zealand cinemas on September 1, The biopic of All Black legend Richie McCaw's ascent to greatness had a stellar opening run, bringing in a total of $767,749 across 102 screens in the week ending September 7.

However, figures obtained from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of New Zealand showed McCaw's movie was quickly dethroned - with sales down 53.6 per cent to $356,604 in the week ending on Thursday.