Mitchell salutes captain McCaw

Richie McCaw (Gallo Images)
Richie McCaw (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell has hailed captain Richie McCaw after leading his team to the Rugby Championship title.

Mitchell wrote on SA RugbyMag.co.za that the 120-Test veteran McCaw was immense against the Springboks at Ellis Park on Saturday.

McCaw, who's first Test cap was during Mitchell's tenure as All Blacks coach, only returned from injury a week ago to play his first Test match at Ellis Park and led from the front as the world champions weathered a spirited Springboks onslaught to record a 38-27 win, the All Blacks first at the ground for 15 years.

Mitchell wrote that McCaw possesses various characteristics that define him from the rest, saying that the robust flank has displayed remarkable fitness throughout his career.

Mitchell also points out the work McCaw has put in to develop areas of his game which he may not necessarily need or use, but has helped him to develop into one of the most innovative players of his generation. especially at the breakdown.

"He gets on the potential wrong side of law by getting there (the breakdown) early and keeping his feet for as long as possible.

"He also gets his body in the perfect position before the ruck is formed.

"He has evolved his breakdown work as the law interpretations have changed, and learned to put up with taking physical hits off the ball as well as the pressure put on him by opposition coaches and the media, who have suggested he cheats at the breakdown," Mitchell wrote.

Mitchell goes onto write that he had his fair share of doubts when he first selected McCaw to the All Blacks squad, before he had even played a Super Rugby match.

"I remember his first carry in his first Test against Ireland in Dublin in 2001, when he was 20 years old.

"He knocked on, and for a moment I thought we may have selected him too early in his career.

"But we went on to win 40-29 and McCaw was named Man of the Match!"

Mitchell pointed out that McCaw's professionalism has stood him in good stead over the years and that he has struck a healthy balance in his personal life away from the game.

"He is a genuinely good bloke who is very gifted in many aspects.

"He has maximised his talent and fulfilled his dream of not just becoming an All Black but a great All Black."
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