All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has announced his retirement from rugby.
He said he planned to start a career as a commercial helicopter pilot for Christchurch helicopters as he moved away from rugby into the next stage of his life.
The 34-year-old had been tipped to hang up his boots for some time, but wanted to wait until the Rugby World Cup was over. He made the announcement this afternoon, at the New Zealand Rugby offices.
McCaw said at the start of the year he knew this was likely to be his last and he made no secret of that.
"Deep down I didn't want to shut the door totally. For two reasons I didn't want to make it final because I was worried the emotion might get to me in a world cup year and I might start thinking about the 'last this, the last that.'"
"I knew too with the World Cup there was no in-betweens in coming home. I was either going to be extremely happy or extremely disappointed. Had it gone the way of us getting beaten I wanted to make sure I did it right as All Blacks captain that I fronted...and not already have a foot out the door."
"If it went the other way I wanted to enjoy being an All Black and make it about the team and not individuals."
McCaw played a record 148 Tests for New Zealand after making his debut as a 20 year old against Ireland in Dublin in 2001.
Such was his dominance in the position that he was never rested and in 2011 became the first All Black to play 100 Tests.
He took over the captaincy from Tana Umaga at the start of the 2006 season and went on to lead New Zealand 111 times.
It was his leadership that made him a legend, leading through his performance on the field and asking his players to follow.
He was regarded as the best openside flanker of all time and was named World Rugby Player of the Year three times after being nominated eight times.
He tasted World Cup defeat twice, before eventually raising the Cup in 2011 and then again this year.
During his career with the All Blacks McCaw won two World Cups, seven Tri-Nations-Rugby Championship titles and the Bledisloe Cup eight times.
McCaw has also been the backbone of the Crusaders Super Rugby side for the last 14 years, played 145 games for the franchise and won the title 4 times.
The former Wallabies flanker Phil Waugh who locked horns with McCaw at Super Rugby and international level for more than a decade said McCaw was a warrior, playing big minutes in the bulk of his Tests and relentlessly putting his body on the line for the All Blacks.
"You can just see the bruises, the scars that he wears," Waugh, who played for Australia between 2000-09, said on Fox Sports.
"He came onto the scene a pretty fresh-faced young New Zealander and he finishes with such an outstanding record. I do think he's the best rugby player of all time," said Waugh.