New Zealand legend could be put in cotton wool ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
There is growing speculation that New Zealand national coach Steve Hanson could rest Richie McCaw from this year’s Rugby Championship in order to have him 100 per cent for the World Cup in 2015.
The 33-year-old has played limited time in the past two seasons, as he and coaching staff at Canterbury and the All Blacks try and help the rugby legend maintain peak levels of fitness.
The measure appears to be working, after McCaw returned recently for the Crusaders in Super 15 last weekend and turned in the kind of 80-minute performance that has seen him rated as one of the best forward of all-time.
However, pundits in New Zealand believe if he is to produce similar performances when it matters, in the World Cup, Hansen must not burn the national skipper out now, in spite of the always important Rugby Championship on the horizon.
“Steve Hansen has some big calls to make in the coming months,” NZ Herald’s Steve Reason said.
“Perhaps the biggest call is to drop Richie McCaw as the captain of the All Blacks and to drop him from the November tour of Europe. It is the only way to get McCaw to next year’s World Cup looking like the man who played for the Crusaders at the weekend.
“This was McCaw reborn. What a pleasure it was to see the man playing with a smile on his face. What a pleasure it was to see McCaw making tackle after tackle like the kid who used to bring down sheep for fun.
“The tackle count was ridiculous. I made it 18, the official count was 20, but I am quite prepared to believe it was 50. The only other player to exceed 10 was Colin Slade with 12 tackles.
“McCaw made his first hit after 15 seconds. He made his final tackle in the 80th minute of the match, breaking in from a wide position to rope another Brumby.
McCaw said: ‘I was all right bar the last 10 minutes when I was a bit out of gas’.”
If New Zealand was to leave McCaw out, it would not be a surprise move given they have shown their hand over the past two seasons with limiting his minutes.
But if this was to happen in the lead-up to another World Cup, it would be yet another advertisement of the depth of the All Blacks as fanatix predicts they will continue to show why they are the best country in world rugby, with or without their captain.