All Blacks legend Richie McCaw has listed the best and toughest of those he shared the field with in his illustrious rugby career.

The former captain is widely regarded as one of the game's greatest, having led New Zealand to two World Cup victories as well as amassing an impressive 148 tests caps, with 110 as skipper.

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This time, he has passed compliments onto others.

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Speaking in a Q+A with World Rugby, McCaw's revealed former Wallabies flanker George Smith as the one he feared most on the field, saying Smith "was always pretty tough".

Smith was a great contributor to Australian rugby in the modern era, playing in 111 tests across 13 years donning the green and gold jersey. 24 of those tests were against the All Blacks, of which Smith triumphed in seven - but only three in which McCaw also played.

McCaw regarded former Wallabies flanker George Smith as the toughest he's faced. Photo / Getty
McCaw regarded former Wallabies flanker George Smith as the toughest he's faced. Photo / Getty

McCaw had earlier revealed that his respect for Smith goes back a long way.

"I remember playing him when I was in the under 19s against Australia and remember then thinking just what a good player he is."

A familiar face in the form of former first-five Dan Carter took the honours of the player McCaw most admired as his hardest-working teammate.

Carter played alongside McCaw in the All Blacks, for the Crusaders in Super Rugby and Canterbury in the NPC.

"The amount of work he used to put in to make sure he was right to play on Saturday, meant everyone around him made sure they were doing their little bit," McCaw remembered.

Richie McCaw said Dan Carter was his hardest-working teammate. Photo / Getty
Richie McCaw said Dan Carter was his hardest-working teammate. Photo / Getty

Carter played 112 tests for the All Blacks – the sixth most of all time – and played 96 tests alongside McCaw on his way to accumulating a world record 1598 points through 13 years on the international scene.

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Along with McCaw, Carter is the only other player to have ever won three World Rugby player of the year awards.

"Having him direct things out on the field made it pretty easy as a number seven," said McCaw.

In terms of loose forward teammates, McCaw labelled two fellow All Blacks greats as his favourites to play alongside within a six-seven-eight contingent.

"I always enjoyed playing alongside Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino, as a loose forward trio they were pretty good."

The three were the pick of the bunch when it came to New Zealand loosies from 2009 until 2017 when Kaino's hold on the number six jersey was being challenged.

The trio played in the same test on 42 occasions, winning 35 of those matches. Prior to that McCaw spent a lot of his All Blacks career with Reuben Thorne, Jerry Collins and Rodney So'oialo within the loose forwards.

Richie McCaw. Photo / Getty
Richie McCaw. Photo / Getty

McCaw also revealed in the Q+A that he would not be interested in coaching the All Blacks, as the role would 'get too frustrating'.

"When I was a player I could get out and do something about it, when you're a coach I think you got to have a different way of looking at it.

"I'd like to coach young kids one day."