Richie McCaw has announced he will be hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby after a stellar career with the All Blacks.
McCaw, the world’s most capped international player, made the announcement in Wellington this morning.
His news comes just a day after loosing teammate and friend Jonah Lomu.
The 34-year-old rugby superstar payed tribute to Lomu, offering his deepest sympathies to Lomu’s family and friends and spoke about whether or not his announcement had come at “the right time”, but insisted that his retirement would go ahead as planned.
“I’m hanging up my boots … it’s the end of my rugby days … my last game as an All Black and as a professional rugby player was winning the World Cup final,” McCaw said.
He was wary to confirm his retirement so soon after leading his team to an historical victory in the Rugby World Cup, which saw the All Blacks retain the coveted trophy two years in a row.
Captaining both winning campaigns, McCaw delayed his retirement announcement to give credit to the team’s accomplishments, not wanting to take attention away from their victory.
“I wanted to make sure it was about the team and not the individual,” he said.
Being able to leave satisfied, knowing he had played his best rugby and finished off his career on a high, McCaw was happy about the timing.
“I also felt like I played some of my best rugby at the World Cup,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to go out “limping across the line”.
McCaw says his plans for the future now include flying helicopters with Christchurch Helicopters company.
“I am heavily involved in the Christchurch Helicopters company, they are great people and I’m excited about the opportunities there. Aviation is something I’m passionate about, I’m going to carry on flying and work towards getting my commercial pilot licence,” McCaw said.
“The iSport Foundation charity, which I set up with Dan Carter and Ali Williams, also gives us the opportunity to help talented teenagers reach their potential in their chosen sport, which is a cool way for us to give back.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen spoke after Richie, applauding him for a stellar career and extended his well wishes on behalf of his team.
“His ability as a leader will be something he will be remembered for. Leadership doesn’t come to anyone naturally, it’s a learned skill. After the adversity of 2007 and the criticism that came with that, Richie’s mental toughness and desire to improve really shone through.
“It’s those qualities that have made him, in my view, the greatest leader of the All Blacks of all time.
“He’s been an inspiration to us all. Not only has he enhanced the jersey during his time, but he has left a lasting legacy that will be talked about by many people long after we’re all gone. It’s been an absolute pleasure to have shared the road with him.”
McCaw’s retirement follows announcements by Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock.
“I’m now really excited about starting the next chapter of my life. I’m looking forward to the future and what it may hold.”