Legendary former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw. Presseye/David Mackay/INPHO
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Richie McCaw lends his support to calls for New Zealand to change its flag

“The silver fern has always been the special symbol on the All Black jersey that represents who we are as Kiwis.”

WORLD CUP WINNING All Blacks captain Richie McCaw entered the contentious New Zealand flag debate today, saying he is in favour of change.

In a Facebook post, McCaw said he realised it was time for a change when he saw the New Zealand and Australian flags side-by-side at last year’s World Cup final.

Both flags have the Union Jack in the upper-left corner, with New Zealand’s flag also bearing four red stars on a dark blue background, while the Australian standard has six white stars.

New Zealanders vote next month whether to replace the flag with a new design featuring a silver fern on a black-and-blue background.

Opinion polls show the nation divided on whether a change is warranted. However McCaw, recently named New Zealander of the Year, said it became clear to him at the World Cup that a change was needed.

“This is the moment when I decided a new flag would be great for our country. Running out at Twickenham and seeing the two flags looking so similar,” McCaw posted with a photo of the flags at the World Cup final.

“The silver fern has always been the special symbol on the All Black jersey that represents who we are as Kiwis, so the new flag with a silver fern as a part of it would be a great option I believe.”

Another high profile All Black, Dan Carter, has also spoken publicly in recent days in favour of a flag change.

Prime Minister John Key has led the push for change, saying the existing ensign is a colonial relic that is too easily confused with Australia’s flag.

Public polls indicate a majority of New Zealanders favour retaining the existing flag, although the gap has narrowed from nearly 70% last September to 56% in recent surveys.

© AFP 2016

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