Rugby: Richie McCaw breaks silence on standoff, admits Silver Lake deal 'scares' him

The ongoing spat between New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association (NZRPA) has prompted a response from the greatest player of his generation.

Richie McCaw has called for calm as the standoff over private equity investment took an ugly turn on Friday.

NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson slammed players' association boss Rob Nichol for "playing games" in the media and effectively sabotaging the lucrative Silver Lake deal.

The NZRPA and investment company Forsyth Barr - headed by former All Black skipper David Kirk - proposed an alternative deal that would see 5 percent of NZR's stake sold to consumers.  

Robinson fired back, saying he was "shocked and disappointed" by the announcement, claiming NZR had no knowledge of the proposal before it was released to the media.

Speaking to the NZ Herald, McCaw says it is time for a "reasoned debate" as concerns grow the game could be destroyed internally if the two sides can't come together.

"We've got to have a look at it and debate it," McCaw says of the Forsyth Barr proposal.

"Don't be afraid of it. It's not saying one's definitely better than the other, but the thing I really want to see is to look at these options, and don't just dismiss it because it wasn't yours.

"The big thing I hope is that this new proposal on the table actually gets discussed, and not just dismissed. 

"For me, it's another option that I didn't think was possible, but it looks like it could be."

Richie McCaw is a two-time World Cup-winning captain
Richie McCaw is a two-time World Cup-winning captain Photo credit: Image - Getty Images, video - Newshub

A veteran of 148 tests and winner of two World Cups as captain, McCaw admits the Silver Lake deal "scares" him.

While acknowledging he and current players need to be open-minded about foreign investment into the New Zealand game, he fears for the future of the sport if a thorough risk assessment isn't undertaken.

"Being told [by NZR] that's the only option and we take it or leave it, does make you wonder. 

"I can see how a whole lot of money coming in would make people feel pretty excited about it. But when you talk with people about private equity, the feedback I get is to be very careful, that you have to understand the motivation, which is to make money off it. Straight away that scares me.

"I'm not an expert in the field, but there were business people who would say to me 'be careful'."

McCaw also stresses that greed is not a factor for the players. A former board member of the players' association, McCaw says it's about leaving NZR and the All Blacks jersey in a better place than it was when you started. 

"The whole ethos behind the All Blacks is that you do your time, so that the future generations can keep adding to it.

"We always talked about what was best for New Zealand rugby. One of our strengths of rugby in New Zealand is that we've had a really united way of doing things, which has actually been unique in the world. We want to make sure we get back to that state. 

"I really hope we work together to get there. I know the players want to get back to that. It does nobody any good to not have that partnership, which was special, working.

"I know in the debates in the time I was in the players' association, it wasn't about what can we get right now, it was how can we make sure this is sustainable, and works, and treats everyone fairly.

"What's happening now feels exactly the same to me. The current players will not be driven by how much money is going to come to them, but about what's best for New Zealand rugby."