Win or lose, McCaw will be remembered as a great–unless we lose

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A guest post from sports writer Marcus Rattsusan

He is our greatest ever rugby player. Perhaps the greatest of any nation. Is there any milestone in the sport Richie McCaw hasn’t achieved over the last decade and a half? Perhaps the only meaningful one left for McCaw is to become the first captain to successfully defend a Rugby World Cup. McCaw has filled us all with immense pride and joy during his playing career, and if the All Blacks don’t win this year’s World Cup we should revoke his citizenship.

McCaw was a hero in the 2011 World Cup. He got us over the line despite playing with a broken bone in his foot and being in immense pain. That tells you a lot about the personal qualities of the man. Richie McCaw always gives it everything. He is an inspiration to young rugby players worldwide, a fierce warrior who leaves it all on the field, and if we don’t win the World Cup we should burn his house down.

It takes guts and courage to play rugby at the highest level year after year, particularly in New Zealand. McCaw is closing in on 150 test caps, a milestone it is difficult to imagine any other All Black ever reaching. We may never see another player like McCaw again, and if he doesn’t bring the World Cup back home he will live in infamy as one of our worst ever captains.

McCaw has changed his playing style over the years, but he remains as effective as ever. There are few better than McCaw at thieving opposition ball, but what makes McCaw truly great is his leadership. His winning record as a captain is astonishing, and if the All Blacks don’t defend the World Cup this year it will be because he was too old, too slow, over the hill, and why did the selectors even take him?

There is talk now of Richie McCaw being given a knighthood or even entering politics. If anyone deserves the highest honours it is McCaw. It’s a shame we haven’t yet honoured him with a knighthood, because if we had we could then strip it from him in the event that the All Blacks lost the final.

Richie McCaw remains an inspiration for so many young rugby players. Every young boy or girl who plays the game knows who he is, and if he fails us at the World Cup we must teach our children that he was a poor captain, a lacklustre leader who failed the sternest test, and who was only made to look good by the players around him.

McCaw and his team go into the Rugby World Cup as hot favourites, and they take with them all of our hopes. The entire nation desperately wants a successful defence of the trophy the All Blacks won in 2011. A victory in Twickenham would be a fitting send-off for one of our greatest sons, a man who has given so much to the game, and if we don’t manage a win we must blame Richie McCaw for the entire thing.