All Blacks recognised in New Year Honours list


Richie McCaw says it is "extremely humbling" to be awarded New Zealand's top honour, and has paid tribute to his fellow teammates – some of whom have also been recognised for their work.

McCaw has joined 18 other New Zealander's in being appointed an Ordinary Member of the New Zealand Order in the New Year Honours list.

It's a birthday present to remember for the 35-year-old who, in the past, has turned down an offer of knighthood.

But 2016 has seen the legendary recently-retired All Black accepting New Zealand's highest honour.

McCaw declined all media interviews, preferring to post a video message on his Facebook page.

In it, he says he was proud of what he and the All Blacks had managed to achieve in his 15 year professional career including back-to-back Rugby World Cup wins.

"With rugby being a team sport you have to rely on your teammates to be successful and I've been lucky in my years as an All Black to have played alongside some awesome players.

"To receive this honour and my name alongside some great New Zealanders is exceptionally humbling. But I've said in the past I've never been comfortable with receiving the title 'Sir' and that hasn't changed - it's a personal thing.

"That's why I'm thrilled to receive the Order of New Zealand."

McCaw says while praise has been heaped on him, he just saw himself as "an ordinary Kiwi kid that managed to live my dream".

But he's not the only All Black to be acknowledged.

Dan Carter and All Blacks assistant manager Gilbert Enoka were made Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM), while former All Blacks Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith and forwards coach Mike Cron were appointed Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) says they're proud of the men's achievements and their contribution to the game.

"[Richie's] the embodiment of our vision for rugby to be a sport that unifies and inspires people. He has been an inspirational leader and an outstanding New Zealander," says NZR chairman Brent Impey.

"Dan, Keven, Tony, Ma'a and Conrad inspired a whole generation of young players during their time in the All Blacks and entertained rugby fans both here and overseas for many years and we congratulate them on their recognition."

Impey called Cron and Enoka's leadership "outstanding" and was delighted they been recognised, as well as former All Blacks doctor John Mayhew, who was made an ONZM for services to sports medicine, and former leading rugby referee Colin Hawke, who was appointed an MNZM for his contribution to rugby.

"These Honours recognise not only the important contributions [the recipients] have made to the game, both on and off the field, but also their contributions to the wider community and we thank them for that," Impey says.

McCaw is now taking some well-deserved time off from rugby and starts a new career as a helicopter pilot at Christchurch Helicopters.

Carter however, is still lacing up his rugby boots with French club Racing Metro in Paris.

Smith will also be in France, joining Colin Slade to play for Pau, as well as Nonu who is playing for Toulon.

Mealamu is taking up a role as ambassador for New Zealand Rugby.

View the photo gallery to see the honoured All Blacks through the years.

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