Impressing the All Blacks' on-field leader is no doubt a priority for newcomers into the national side - and that was no different for Liam Messam when playing under Richie McCaw in the latter part of the 2000s.
Messam, a long time servant of the Chiefs and Waikato in domestic rugby, made his New Zealand debut in 2008, in the middle of McCaw's reign in the national number seven jersey, and early in his captaincy stint.
The pair enjoyed sustained success in the black jersey with two World Cup wins, five Rugby Championship titles in eight years and continuing New Zealand's ongoing Bledisloe Cup success over the Wallabies.
On top of that, Messam was often part of the world's best loose forward contingent, either as a starting flanker or off the bench.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
But as Messam recounts for The XV, there was a not-so-peachy occasion where he and Jerome Kaino elected for a specific colour of boots for a game, which differed from the typical team attire.
"We became really good teammates when we were in the All Blacks together and we used to put on a united front to try and convince Richie McCaw to let us wear white boots," Messam says.
"One year, me and Jerome were the only forwards in the squad to play in white boots in a game down in Dunedin. We ran out onto the field and Skip just looked at us, looked down at our boots and back up at us – he didn't have to say anything, we knew he wasn't happy.
"I think Steve Hansen might have said something to us after the game too, because that was the only time we wore white – we went back to the black boots after that."
Messam and Kaino overlapped with McCaw in the All Blacks for seven years, with the trio combining for 272 caps.