Richie McCaw (Getty)
Twickenham – The world champions All Blacks have been praised as the greatest of all time by former rivals, but captain Richie McCaw is reluctant to put them ahead of his disastrous 2007 side.
In the aftermath of New Zealand’s comprehensive 34-17 disposal of Australia in Saturday’s World Cup final, tributes have flooded in from around the world.
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallet said it capped a phenomenal four years for the All Blacks in which they won 49 of 54 games, lost three and drew two.
“People are saying is this the greatest team? I wonder why we are still asking that question,” Mallett said.
“They’ve retained the World Cup and found ways to win games they should lose. When they get it right they hammer teams.
“This was 34-17 in a final, it was a tough game, but they still won by that margin. That’s some achievement.”
Former England coach Clive Woodward, writing for the Mail Online website, also praised the All Blacks who have become the first side to win the World Cup three times having previously triumphed in 1987 and 2011.
“To win one World Cup is amazing but to win back-to-back tournaments is off the scale and I can only congratulate everybody in the New Zealand party from coach Steve Hansen downwards,” Woodward wrote.
McCaw, however, the most experienced Test player in the world with 148 caps, and a veteran of four World Cups, was not willing to rate the 2015 champions ahead of the 2007 side which was bundled out in the quarter-finals.
“I always said the 2007 team that went to the World Cup was one of the most talented teams I’ve been in, but the results show we didn’t achieve our potential,” he said.
“This team’s had a real core of guys for four years together who have been able to do the job. There’s no doubt it’s right up there with one of the best.”
McCaw said the balance of young enthusiastic players with the old hands in the 2015 squad “makes this a pretty special team but it is hard to compare because everything’s a bit different but there’s no doubt it’s right up there.”
McCaw, who was also captain when the 2007 side achieved New Zealand’s worst performance at a World Cup and again in 2011 when they won, said the significance of winning back-to-back trophies was still sinking in.
“It’s just that we got the job done,” he said.
“It was a job we came here to do and when you achieve what you want to do you just sit back with a bit of pride and satisfaction rather than jumping around.
“I’ve heard from home about how much excitement there is back in New Zealand and perhaps that’s when it will hit — how much of an impact winning this thing again has had for everyone at home.
“So I’m looking forward to that opportunity when we get home on Wednesday.”