The son of a famous All Black has revealed the expectation and pressure that can come with having high achieving sporting parents.

As Richie and Gemma McCaw escape the public attention of their recent pregnancy announcement with an Hawaiian holiday the son of All Black legend Joe Stanley has said he always felt he had to live up to his dad.

The news that our former All Black captain and Black sticks star are having a baby already has people dreaming big.

"This baby will be the best athlete NZ has ever seen with your guys' genes," former Bachelor winner Matilda Rice wrote on Gemma's instagram post, announcing the pregnancy.


"That bub is going to come out of the womb running," media personality Nadine Higgins chimed in.

The good natured comments aren't surprising.

Gemma, 28, is a former Black Sticks hockey player and three-time Olympian, while McCaw is Test Rugby's most capped player, captaining the All Blacks to two Rugby World Cup victories.

Jeremy Stanley - the son of All Black legend Smokin' Joe Stanley - was a talented rugby centre and played three games for the All Blacks in an injury plagued career.

He also represented New Zealand in softball with the Black Sox.

Stanley graduated from medical school as an orthopaedic surgeon and married former Silver Ferns captain Anna Stanley. The couple have three children of their own.

"You definitely feel the pressure," Stanley said.

"That pressure of the expectation you think other people have of you is always there."


The eldest of six children, Jeremy also put a lot of pressure on himself to succeed.

He felt it the most during high school, when he led traditional rugby powerhouse Auckland Grammar's first XV at the same time as his dad was still playing for the All Blacks.

At one point, Jeremy overheard another student say the only reason he was in the team was because his dad was Joe Stanley.

That student later became Jeremy's best friend, but it showed the comments he had to deal with.

Yet -for all that pressure - none came from Jeremy's dad, who was supportive and only offered advice after a game if it was sought.

"Most of the time my schoolmates would be excited that a current All Black was coming to watch a game", he said.

"Sometimes dad's mates, like John Kirwan, would come and watch also – that was pretty cool."

A family of sports shoes serves as a metaphor in their announcement. Photo / Instagram
A family of sports shoes serves as a metaphor in their announcement. Photo / Instagram

As Jeremy left school to play club and Super Rugby, he became more at ease with the pressure, not least because he was busy completing his medical degree at the same time.

In the end Jeremy was forced to retire young at 26 after being hurt in a tackle playing against Taranaki in 2001.

But he married Silver Ferns champion Anna Stanley and now it is the turn of their three children to grow up in a family rich with sporting history - one of Jeremy's cousins is Australian professional footballer Tim Cahill.

Jeremy said he is not sure how much pressure they feel - he is yet to sit down and talk to them about it.

"I think it is tougher on my daughter because she plays netball and Anna is their coach," he said.

His two boys, meanwhile, play soccer and Jeremy jokes they are safe from any pressure on that front because "he's got nothing to offer" in terms of advice on the sport.

"I just sit on the sideline and keep quiet," he said.

David Atkinson, the creative director of support group Parenting Place, says it is pretty common for kids to feel pressure to live up to their parents achievements.

"Whether the parents are sports stars, successful in their own professional area or even just the expectation you will continue to do what your parents did," he said.

But often that pressure didn't come from the parents themselves, and - in the case of the McCaws and their baby - it was much more likely to come from the public and social media.

"The rest of society – their friends, teachers, coaches – will be looking at [their child] thinking do they have what their parents had," he said.

He said the key message for parents was to show their children unconditional love.

"Irrespective of whether they scored a try or made the team that is what every kid desires and deserves – that unconditional love," he said.

One way to do that and give a child "a healthy, robust sense of identity was to be conscious of the things we praise them for.

"So rather than just praising them for particular achievements, like sporting achievements, we should be deliberate about praising them for the way they treat their peers, the way they share or how kind they are," Atkinson said.

Jeremy, meanwhile - despite being a father himself - wished the McCaws the best with their child and was cautious in giving any tips to the revered pair.

"I wouldn't want give the Great One any advice," he joked.