|AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 29: All Blacks Andy Ellis (L), Daniel Carter, Israel Dagg, Richie McCaw, Mils Muliaina, Isaia Toeava and Sam Whitelock pose for a team photo during the New Zealand All Blacks 2011 Rugby World Cup official squad presentation at Ponsby Rugby Club on August 29, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)|
Richie McCaw, All Blacks captain
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw heads poll as greatest All Black and most liked sporting celebrity.
Who is the greatest All Black of all time? A survey has found 56 per cent of rugby-mad Kiwis believe Richie McCaw deserves to take the title.
The survey also found McCaw had overtaken Silver Ferns shooter Irene van Dyk as the most liked sporting celebrity, but only just - by a one per cent margin.
Of those surveyed, 89 per cent viewed McCaw favourably, up 11 per cent since the question was last asked in 2008.
While van Dyk and Valerie Adams were equal in second place, with 88 per cent of participants viewing them favourably.
McCaw's team-mate Dan Carter also ranked highly, with 86 per cent of participants holding him in high esteem.
The poll found former All Black coach Sir Graham Henry's popularity had increased, with 75 per cent viewing him favourably, up 10 percent.
While former Crusaders coach Robbie Deans' problems as Wallabies coach seemed to have hurt his image, as 51 per cent viewed him favourably, down 17 per cent.
The only truly polarising sports celebrity on the list was Sonny Bill Williams, with 52 per cent viewing him favourably and 37 per cent unfavourably.
However, Williams scored better amongst league fans, with 69 per cent viewing him favourably compared to 62 per cent from rugby fans, suggesting that any resentment from his controversial departure from the Bulldogs may be fading.
The survey found rugby's place as New Zealand's most popular sport also remained secure, with 66 per cent of participants saying they were interested in it.
Netball came in second place on 45 per cent, followed by cricket on 40 per cent.
The poll also found interest in rowing and athletics was as high as rugby league, motorsport and soccer, likely due to the coverage from the Olympics.
Interest in football was down 20 per cent since its peak in 2010.
A 1000 New Zealanders, 18-years-old and over took part in the online survey, conducted by UMR Research.
Richie McCaw is still playing the game of rugby, and is expected to continue until the next Rugby World Cup in 2015. He will have his six month sabbatical from rugby after this years end of year northern tour. He is expected to return to the game at the end of the Super 15 Rugby competition in the middle of next year and then resume international rugby.
Acknowledgements: © Fairfax NZ News