Kiwi rugby legend Richie McCaw has opened up about his mental struggle while playing and captaining the All Blacks.
The 38-year-old told Movember's Robert Dunne on the A Few Good Men podcast that he had serious anxiety before the Rugby World Cup final against France in 2011.
Following New Zealand’s early exit at the Rugby World Cup in 2007, McCaw said that he would give up the captaincy if the All Blacks were to lose against France in RWC 2011 final.
"It only went through my mind once, but the morning of the final – it was a nine o'clock game so we had a long day to fill – I was lying on the bed and I was like 'the reality is if we don't win today, this will be my last game as captain,'" said McCaw.
"And now people could argue whatever, but you think about it, someone who's been captain at two World Cups and haven't won it, they're not going to give you a third go.
"But I was like 'wow this is unhelpful' and that was the last time I had even considered it. But you know that was reality."
The two-time Rugby World Cup winner [2011 & 2015] said he had troubling times while recovering from a head knock in 2004, with McCaw having to miss several months of rugby due to the injury.
"Head knocks unfortunately in contact sport that happens. And for some people it affects them more than others.
"So I did get a decent one. But I think what happened, yup I had a few symptoms for a little while, but I got myself in a hole because people started to question whether I should be playing rugby, I started to question that.
"And put the head injury aside, I think I recovered from that probably a bit quicker, but I actually got myself in a hole. I was looking at 'I'm never going to be able to play rugby again', and you get the old negative loop."
McCaw said his injuries and mental struggles helped him become a better player and person off the pitch.
"Once I got back playing and got past all that, it made you really appreciate what you were doing. And actually realising that just going and training hard and going and playing, there's a bit more to making sure everything works.
"And even like performing under pressure, that's not just a matter of training hard or on the field, there's all sorts of things that you can do to become more resilient, lift your threshold of what you can handle and stuff like that.
"And that's I guess something that really intrigued me and that I put a lot of work into probably in the last three years."