Former South Africa captain Jean de Villiers says the departing Richie McCaw can look back on his rugby career with immense pride after announcing his retirement.
McCaw brought the curtain down on his glittering career on Thursday after 148 Tests for New Zealand - captaining the reigning world champions on a record 110 occasions.
His final match for the All Blacks saw him secure a second world cup title, New Zealand becoming the first nation to retain the Webb Ellis Trophy as they beat Australia 34-17 at Twickenham.
De Villiers - who retired n September after fracturing his jaw against Samoa at the World Cup - paid tribute to his long-time adversary and says 34-year-old has plenty to be proud of.
"We all know that at some stage we will have to hang up our boots and say goodbye to this game we love so much," De Villiers said in a statement released by the South African Rugby Union.
"All we then have left are memories and Richie can be immensely proud of the memories he has helped create on and off the field.
"He has been superb and what he has achieved on the field, as an individual and as captain of the All Blacks, is nothing short of unbelievable.
"The whole of New Zealand can be very proud of him. Richie will probably go down as the best who has ever played his game and his achievements will last forever."