Richie McCaw: Joe Schmidt has pedigree to coach All Blacks

World Cup winner has clear memory of getting out of jail at Aviva in 2013

 

Richie McCaw has lent his imprimatur to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt one-day fulfilling that role with the All Blacks. New Zealand’s recently retired captain, who led his country to a brace of Rugby World Cup titles in 2011 and 2015, believes that Schmidt possesses the coaching pedigree, based on his track record in Europe with Clermont Auvergne, Leinster and Ireland.

Speaking at a launch as an AIG ambassador in Dublin yesterday, McCaw, who made a record 148 test appearances in a highly decorated career with the All Blacks, was unequivocal about his fellow New Zealander’s credentials. He said: “We all watch with a bit of interest all the teams that have the Kiwis involved.

“Certainly Joe, with his record and the teams he’s been involved with, has been pretty successful and I know the guys who have experienced his coaching before he came over here always talked highly of him.

“We nearly suffered from that in 2013 so it doesn’t go unnoticed absolutely and I think down the track a guy like that could come back and coach in New Zealand, maybe the All Blacks. He’s the type of guy who’d be great, the experience he has is pretty awesome.”

Schmidt almost masterminded an Irish victory over the All Blacks in November, 2013, Ryan Crotty’s try and a re-taken conversion by Aaron Cruden the final stanzas of a Test that New Zealand pilfered 24-22, maintaining a proud record of never having lost an international match to their hosts.

Pivotal moment

McCaw offered an interesting insight into the match, pointing to the fact that during the second half they had begun to chip away at Ireland’s lead, but that the pivotal moment came Jonathan Sexton missed a penalty.

“It would have sealed it. The fact that it didn’t opened the door for us; we had been offered the opportunity. But that’s that moment in sport. If he [Sexton] had been offered that again he would probably have got that goal.

“At the end of the game I felt like we didn’t deserve to win – that’s what I loved about the team I was involved in: we found a way.”

He’s not too sure whether the memory will impact upon the teams when they face each other in the autumn, first in Soldier’s Field, Chicago and then the Aviva Stadium. “It is up to the players how they look at it.

“The reality is the gap across the top half-a-dozen teams in the world, there isn’t much between them. On any given day you could say who should win and who shouldn’t but you have only got to be off by a little bit and that day I know the Irish were right on top of their game and didn’t allow us to be and it could have gone the other way.

“That’s like a reason to look forward to these games, they could take a leaf out of that [and believe] ‘yeah, it is all possible’. But if you start thinking ‘ah here we go again’, that can be a barrier as well.”

Before that Ireland travel to a three-test rendezvous with the Springboks in South Africa, somewhere they have never won. McCaw, who has, admitted: “It’s one of the toughest places to play; it’s pretty intimidating too. Their support around games can get on top of you a little bit. But, on the other side of it it’s one of the great places to play. If you get a win there, it’s pretty satisfying.”

McCaw, was engaging on a variety of topics: he has no interest in being a professional coach other than to work with teenagers some day; he doesn’t miss Super Rugby; and there will be a tug at the heartstrings when the All Blacks run out without him for the first time.

Heartbreak

For many years the one result he’d reverse during his playing career of given the chance was the 2007 World Cup final defeat to France but he now understood that without experiencing that heartbreak the All Blacks wouldn’t have gone on achieve everything they did subsequently. What smarts most is losing three Tests in succession to the Springboks.

He also offered a fascinating insight into dealing with pressure of being an All Black and an All Black captain, at that. “If you don’t embrace it, it can become a big weight, especially if things don’t go your way.

“Perhaps even in my career, it got a bit heavy. You think, ‘jeez, why am I doing this?’ You have a win, and it’s sort of on to the next one, and you never actually go ‘that was a good job, well done’. But, you soon get passed it, and you go ‘well, it’s actually a privilege to have that sort of responsibility’.

“I’ve got to say, one of the reasons that I knew it was time to move on, is that it does become tough.”

“At some point you sort of go: ‘I’m not sure whether the desire, or what you need to do, is no longer as easy as it was.”

He never took the easy route.

The full transcript of Richie McCaw’s interview can be read on irishtimes.com/sport

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