Key's successor… Sir Richie McCaw?

John Key and Richie McCaw in 2010 (Reuters)
John Key and Richie McCaw in 2010 (Reuters)

With business leaders urging the Prime Minister to groom a replacement, John Key's joked it could be All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

McCaw's just played his final Test on home soil, and is expected to retire after the upcoming World Cup in England.

"I saw a sign on Saturday night, 'Richie for Prime Minister' – I though you know, not a bad option actually," Mr Key said on the Paul Henry programme this morning.

But first, McCaw would have to show an interest in turning his talents to politics.

"You've got to ask Richie – firstly, he hasn't even retired from rugby yet. Let's see when he does," says Mr Key.

"He's articulate, he's an extremely intelligent guy, there's a range of things he could do. I don't know whether politics is one of those options, but he's got a lot of business interests. I imagine he'd pursue those."

After 142 appearances for the All Blacks, McCaw is the most-capped rugby player of all-time. He turned down a knighthood in 2011 after leading the All Blacks to World Cup glory, and Mr Key says the offer is still on the table.

"I don't believe in my lifetime – and I hope to live a very long life – I'm not going to see an All Black, certainly captain of the All Blacks, play as much as Richie. He's been around 14 years, to take that punishment for that period of time… as an athlete, he's just a freak. The guy's capacity and workload is unbelievable.

"There's no question – in my view, he's absolutely deserving. The question would only be whether he would take one. I don't know."

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