CHRISTCHURCH, 18 NOVEMBER 2015 (STUFF NZ) ---All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is expected to confirm the country's worst-kept secret on Thursday by announcing his retirement from rugby.
Stuff understands the 35-year-old will officially hang up his playing boots at the announcement, a decision widely expected to come after he led New Zealand to their second straight Rugby World Cup title in England earlier this month.
Prior to and during the tournament, McCaw publicly stated he had deliberately not thought about or made any decision on his potential retirement so he could give the All Blacks campaign his full attention and focus.
McCaw has remained non-committal on the subject since the country's third Webb Ellis Cup was locked away, but he is not in the Crusaders 2016 squad and is expected to end all speculation on Thursday.
"The last 10 days has been a pretty special time for him," New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew said on Friday.
"He wanted go into 2015 and enjoy playing the year without really worrying about whether everything he did was the last time he did it. He didn't want the team distracted by that and now he has asked for a little bit more time before finally making a decision and announcement.
"He won't be too far away from getting to that point and if we give him a little more space and have a little more patience we'll all be rewarded with the ultimate answer shortly."
The Oamaru-born flanker will end his international career with a world record 148 tests and one match against the Barbarians in London in 2009.
Proving McCaw's immense value to the All Blacks, the team won 130 tests during his 15 years in the jersey for a success rate of 88.4 per cent. McCaw was also captain for 111 test matches, leading the team to victory on 98 occasions, had 145 caps for the Crusaders and 34 for Canterbury.
McCaw is renowned for his love of flying and was spotted in Marlborough on Friday, joining the dozens of helicopter pilots fighting frost in vineyards. The former Otago Boys' High School student has previously expressed an interest in completing his commercial helicopter licence.
Last night in Dunedin, a private lunch for four with McCaw and captain of the 1987 World Cup winning All Blacks side, David Kirk, was auctioned off at a charity gala.
The event at the Golden Centre Mall was raising funds for Foodshare, an organisation that collects and distributes surplus food from providers. Kirk chairs the board of Foodshare....PACNEWS