Graham Henry believes Richie McCaw is among the very best captains the All Blacks have ever produced.
McCaw committed his future to the New Zealand Rugby Union earlier this week when he announced that he would be staying in his homeland after the World Cup despite sunbstantial interest from overseas.
And that decision was understandably met with a huge smile and a massive sens of relief from All Black coach Henry who was quick to play his skipper the ultimate compliment.
"You just need to look at his winning percentage. Although it is hard for me to compare him to (Sir Wilson) Whineray for example, because I have not had the same amount to do with him as I have a Fitzy or a Tana Umaga, I don't think too many people would argue that McCaw is among our finest All Blacks captains," said Henry.
"He has had that rare ability to adapt as a rugby player and as a leader and displays all the attributes of a great leader: courage, bravery and guts. We are very lucky to have him."
The 30-year-old is now just four caps away of reaching a century of appearances for New Zealand having first worn senior national colours in 2001.
The Crusaders flanker is hoping to lead the All Blacks to World Cup glory this autumn but former Lions coach Henry believes McCaw has already proven himself to be a hugely positive influence on New Zealand rugby regardless of the outcome of the latest global gathering.
"The best way for me to communicate what a fine leader McCaw is to tell you a story about him," added Henry.
"Back in 2008, I think it was, we were playing a test in South Africa. We didn't get back to our hotel until the early hours of the morning and the guys needed to be up at six in the morning to get to our next venue.
"Richie held a team meeting at 4.30am before they left with his leadership group to set the tone for the rest of the week. For me, when he did that, the next test match was won right there. He not only leads by example on the field, but is a settling influence for the team. He is a very, very good leader of men."