Is Richie McCaw ready to be named a Legend?

Sean KellyAnalyst IAugust 20, 2008

The word legend often gets thrown around too much, but would it be fair to say when you look back on the greatest Rugby players to have graced the planet, Richie McCaw would be there and would easily have legend next to his name.

'King Richie' the dominating All Blacks captain, probably the most feared Flanker in world Rugby today.

Showed in New Zealand's last showdown against South Africa why quite rightly he is the All Blacks captain and why he is the best flanker, hell, the best forward in the world.

The past few years there has been no better loose forward than McCaw, and just as he was injured New Zealand lost a spark. And the rugby world stopped and thought maybe New Zealand would not win the Tri-Nations.

Especially after suffering back to back defeats against South Africa and Australia.

Yet low and behold their talismatic came back and did what he does best (cheat).

Now in my mind there are two types of cheating.

There is the cynical, dangerous and stupid kind of cheating. Tana Umaga is guilty of it (spear tackles, suppose Kevin Mealamu could go in there too) and so is Serge Betson (tripping and causing someone to suffer a broken leg).

Then there is the clever, tactical, knowledgeable and game winning type of cheating. That he has now mastered.

What makes him such a good cheat? Possibly the fact that there at 19 rules you can break when at the breakdown. And Richie knows every single one. So he knows all the things he can do, can't do, and how long he can do the illegal for.

Possibly having been an All Black since the tender age of 20, this has given him the time to experience and learn everthing an openside should know.

Or is it because he has been a witness to the wealth of great Flankers that have been a luxury to New Zealand, like Josh Kronfeld (so under-rated) and ofcourse Michael Jones.

Now we come on to the argument has Richie McCaw over taken Jones as the best flanker New Zealand have produced?

Jones redefined the openside flanker role to what it is today. So fast and athletic, every young flanker today that plays the way that they are supposed to are playing a position crafted by a legend.

Surely with a while still left in his career, McCaw can't be named better?

Jones has won a World Cup for starters. Which Richie really should of done in France. If it wasn't for the choker that the All Blacks choose to wear once ever four years, i'm sure McCaw would have been lifting the Webb Ellis trophy.

Richie has now made the captaincy position his own, which fellow AB Jones did not do.

McCaw is playing a position crafted by Jones. So isn't McCaw replicating a legend?

No. Quite frankly. McCaw is most clever player that has ever graced the International stage, and his breakdown skills alone has beaten top teams.

McCaw has taken the idea of the openside flanker, and elevated it to a different level (note I didn't say higher).

As of yet, I will not call Richie McCaw better than Michael Jones. But I'm sure that well McCaw takes his boots off for the last time. I and many others will happily say.

"There goes Richie McCaw, the greatest flanker to ever play the game."