As the All Blacks are the most successful team in rugby history, there have been countless legends playing for New Zealand. But there are a few players who have risen above the rest.
Who was the best All Black player? Richie McCaw is believed to be the best All Black player of all time. He does have some competition with Dan Carter, Jonah Lomu and Sean Fitzpatrick in the conversation.
There is a big debate in the rugby world about who the best player to play for the All Blacks is. New Zealand are the most successful team in international rugby history. They have won the Rugby World Cup three times and hold the record for the longest time ranked number 1 in the world.
Due to that, there have been quite a few different legends who have played for the All Blacks. Pretty much every New Zealand team features players who are seen as the best in their position in history. But there are a few players who stick out above the rest as the best All Blacks of all time.
The consensus is that Richie McCaw is the greatest All Black in the history of New Zealand Rugby. Having made his international debut at just 20 years old, McCaw elevated himself into a key part of the New Zealand team incredibly quickly. It was not just his play which made him special, but also his incredible leadership.
At just 23 years old, he was appointed captain of the All Blacks team and he led them into the 2007 Rugby World Cup. But it was the next two tournaments where McCaw rally cemented himself as the best All Black of all-time.
In 2011, the pressure was incredibly high on New Zealand as they were hosting the Rugby World Cup. Through the tournament, McCaw had re-aggravated a stress fracture in his foot which kept him out of rugby for months at the start of 2011. Despite immense pain, McCaw led his side to the Rugby World Cup title later that year in front of their home crowd.
Four years later, New Zealand were the reigning champions and McCaw was leading the team into the tournament as captain once again. Ranked as the number one team in the world, McCaw showed that the All Blacks really were the best team in the world when they comfortably defeated Australia in the Rugby World Cup Final.
They became the first back to back champions in the history of the Rugby World Cup and many people look at the New Zealand team of 2010-2015 as one of the best rugby teams in the history of the sport. The final ended up being his last game of rugby, with McCaw retiring after the tournament.
When McCaw retired, he did so as the most capped All Black in New Zealand rugby history. He was also the first rugby player to achieve 100 caps as captain and was the most capped player in international rugby history until 2020. As the most successful player in New Zealand history, you can see why McCaw is seen as the greatest All Black of all time.
But it was his work on the pitch which led to McCaw being a superstar. He was a master at the ruck, able to produce turnovers with ease, as well as being one of the hardest workers on the pitch. He was able to get away with quite a lot of things at the ruck and was incredibly disruptive at the breakdown.
While there have been a lot of exceptional players in the history of the All Blacks, I don’t think anyone would argue that Richie McCaw is not the greatest All Black in New Zealand history.
Who is the most successful All Blacks captain?
Leading the New Zealand rugby team is one of the greatest honours in international rugby. Due to the history and prestige surrounding the team, there have been some incredibly successful captains in the team’s history.
Many believe that Richie McCaw is the most successful All Blacks captain. That is mainly down to one thing. New Zealand have won the Rugby World Cup three times and McCaw was the captain of two of those victories. McCaw led the Rugby World Cup winning All-Blacks teams of 2011 and 2015.
He did also finish his international career as captain of the All Blacks with a win percentage of 89.1%, which is the second highest all time for New Zealand captains who have led for at least 10 test matches.
There is one man who has a higher winning percentage as All Blacks captain and that would be Wayne Shelford. One of the toughest men to ever wear the All Blacks jersey, New Zealand went undefeated in the 14 games that he was captain, with Shelford ending up with a winning percentage of 96.4% as captain.
While he was part of the New Zealand team who won the 1987 Rugby World Cup, he was not the captain of the team. David Kirk is the only other man alongside McCaw to have captained the All Blacks to the Rugby World Cup title. But Kirk had a short New Zealand career that ended when he was just 26 years old.
So considering he has the most wins as captain, the most Rugby World Cups as captain and the second highest winning percentage as captain, you can see why Richie McCaw is the most successful All Blacks captain in history.
Best All Black Player 2023
There are a lot of world class players on the All Blacks teams at the moment, so it is hard to say who their best player is.
I think when asked the question, most fans would say that Ardie Savea is the best All Blacks player in 2023. The number eight is one of the first names on the New Zealand team sheet and is very rarely not in the New Zealand side.
He is one of the most powerful and explosive players in attack in the world and a key part of the All Blacks attack in 2023.