Former All Black flyhalf Dan Carter has revealed fellow All Black great Richie McCaw’s pre-match obsession during his remarkable 148-test career.
“I didn’t have the answers. As a team we didn’t have them either, but when you are leading the team you have to take responsibility for what it is and that really brought me down with a thud. In some ways that’s the best thing that happened to me as a player and certainly as a captain. It forced me to face the things you aren’t very good at.
“People often say leadership can be lonely and it only is if you don’t allow other people around you to contribute. I remember coming to the realisation and I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.”
McCaw said he looked around at the senior players group that had four other Super Rugby captains and guys like Carter, who had been around as long as he had. It was a turning point for him and all of a sudden it became not such a lonely place.
“Especially when those big moments came and rather than be scared and hoping you didn’t get to those tough moments, it was actually learning about what pressure does and how to deal with it. In 2011 and 2015, having a tight group of people who drove the team was critical to the team’s success.”
On a lighter note, Carter revelled what McCaw’s ritual was the night before a Test match.
“I’ve never seen a man eat so much ice cream before. I’m struggling to think of a test match you played where you didn’t have ice cream the night before a game,” Carter said about McCaw.
“You’re spot on,” McCaw admitted. “The best man at my wedding, when he got up, the first thing he said was ‘we’re going to start the speech with Richie’s first love’. And everyone thought ‘where’s he going here?’ … and then he said ‘ice cream’.
"I love my ice cream. I always found that on a Friday night you had earnt it for the week and it got me ready to go before a game.
“I’m pretty open to anything, but I quite enjoy mint chocolate chip. Apple crumble is usually what we got the night before a game, and I had to have vanilla with that.”
McCaw joked that he had a stern conversation with the All Blacks dietitian where he said the last thing he would be giving up is ice cream. If he didn’t have it the night before a Test, you could blame a bad performance on that.