Auckland - All Black captain Richie McCaw is probably the best player to have ever played rugby. That was the view of none other than Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s big Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand in Dunedin.

Meyer has coached some of the biggest names in South African rugby over the years, such as Bulls right-hand men Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez and Bryan Habana, but he says that McCaw, 31, is top of the pops.

“I have the biggest respect for a guy like Richie McCaw. I think he is probably the best player that’s ever played rugby. He is a leader from the front, so it is an unbelievable team at this stage,” the Bok coach said on Wednesday.

Meyer was assessing the Boks’ chances of pulling off an unexpected triumph over the All Blacks at the Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday when he made the statement.

The Bok coach doesn’t believe the fact that the Boks beat the All Blacks in their last encounter – an 18-5 victory in Port Elizabeth last year, in which Morné Steyn kicked five penalties and a drop goal – will have any influence on this weekend’s Test.

“In this competition, the All Blacks are way ahead I believe – if you look at their team, they are well balanced and have a lot of experience. But even when the All Blacks beat Australia, every team and every game has its own personality, and there are always one or two big moments that can change the game,” Meyer said.

“It’s a huge difference playing the All Blacks in South Africa compared to here, as we don’t have a good record in New Zealand. You have to be tactically astute, 100 percent disciplined and you need some luck.

“The guys know that they have beaten them at home, but away from home, with all the other results, there was some sort of luck – a lucky bounce, a few long-distance penalties. There isn’t a big difference between the top three teams in the world, but the All Blacks are still way ahead.”

Cape Times