Richie McCaw sees opportunity for NZ Rugby amid coronavirus pandemic

Richie McCaw was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2019 Dan Mullan - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

That's All Blacks great Richie McCaw's message for rugby-starved New Zealanders amid the coronavirus pandemic, the dual World Cup-winner saying there are lessons for fans, players and administrators alike as the country goes into a virtual lockdown.

Four years into retirement, McCaw still keeps a close eye on the game. And the former Crusaders and All Blacks captain liked what he saw in Super Rugby before the competition was shut down for the "foreseeable future' some 10 days ago.

"I've really enjoyed the games I've watched this year," McCaw told Sky Sport's The Breakdown. "First of all, the games I've seen, they've been even ... I've seen the Blues get up in some games and they've shown that a bit of confidence can make a big difference.

"I was really excited to see what was going to happen - you couldn't really pick who was going to be there at the end which I think bodes for a good competition, so it's a shame we've missed out on that potentially."

It appears Super Rugby is increasingly unlikely to resume this season while both New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia have put the brakes on proposed domestic competitions they had hoped to have up and running sometime in April.

Just where that leaves Super Rugby, both as a workable competition but more-so commercially, remains to be seen, though the indications are the financial hit will be significant.

SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos last week told NZME that Super Rugby had four or five weeks to restart or the entire competition would be lost for 2020.

Across the Tasman, Rugby Australia has been forced to suspend its broadcast negotiations amid the coronavirus pandemic which leaves the SANZAAR in limbo as to the exact extent of its financial position moving forward into next year.

There is also the fact that with no rugby available for broadcast, each of the four Unions are missing out on vital revenue for this season.

Still, McCaw took a far more positive outlook saying there might actually be opportunity amid the current uncertainty.

"Every sport is in the same situation - you're wondering what it's going to look like once things turn around and what sort of damage is being done through obviously missing competitions," McCaw said.

"In some ways, rather than looking at what the problems might be now, [look at] what opportunities might open up and there might be some good things come out of it if you can deal with the financial hit."

Rugby saturates New Zealand's sporting market like no other country in the world. From First XV schoolboy rugby right through to the All Blacks, the country may only just be at the start of a rugby drought that could extend right through to the second half of the year.

McCaw says it might just be making people realise how much they need it.

"You hear sometimes that 'oh, people get sick of seeing rugby or sport in general', but it's amazing when you haven't got anything to watch, how important it is to everyone's lives from an entertainment point of view," McCaw told The Breakdown. "I think from a rugby point of view in New Zealand, it's shown how important it is to New Zealand.

"Once that opportunity to get back out there in whatever form it looks like, I think people will get excited to be back playing or back watching and in the long run that might be a positive for our game, remembering how important it is."