New Zealand Rugby
McCaw determined to improve
ESPNscrum Staff
December 9, 2011
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw leads the team out in his 100th cap, New Zealand v France, Rugby World Cup, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, September 24, 2011
Richie McCaw passed the 100 Test cap milestone during the recent Rugby World Cup © Getty Images

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has vowed to kick on from his side's recent Rugby World Cup glory and is confident he can become a better player.

The 30-year-old openside, who spearheaded his side's memorable triumph on home soil earlier this year, is set to be sidelined for the early part of 2012 after undergoing surgery on a chronic foot injury but he firmly believes he will return fitter and stronger than ever.

"I still believe that I can play better and I think I can evolve as a No.7 too," the three-time International Rugby Board Player of the Year told the New Zealand Herald. "That's why I want to carry on playing, because I still think I can offer something. When I stop doing that, or stop enjoying it, I'll start doing something else."

The most-capped All Blacks of all-time and with over 100 Test caps to his name following the World Cup, McCaw's game has evolved alongside the game itself in recent years but he still believes openside is his best position. "I've always said I would do whatever's right for whatever team I'm in, but I do think my best position is seven. I can play the other ones and if I have to do that, I have to do that."

Former New Zealand head coach Graham Henry believes that the chance to be part of the All Blacks' defence of the World Cup crown will serve as significant motivation for McCaw in the coming years but the player himself is not looking that far ahead and insists he will have no qualms about calling it quits if he is no longer performing to his usual high standards. "Four years is definitely a long time, but I'm not going to hang around when I'm not good enough to be here," McCaw said. "I will move on before that and hopefully you know when that is."

Current assistant coach Steve Hansen is favourite to step up to fill the void left by Henry but is not so confident that McCaw can maintain his level of performance for another four years. "If you look at it, can he get to four years? I don't think he knows that and I don't think any of us know that," Hansen told the newspaper.

McCaw played through the pain barrier in the latter stages of the World Cup and went under the knife last month to have a screw removed from his left foot. He is set for a further 10 weeks on the sidelines before he can start running again and faces a race against time to be fit in time for the Crusaders' opening Super Rugby match against the Blues on February 24.

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