All Black Richie McCaw has turned down a knighthood, Prime Minister John Key said.
He told Radio Sport that he had asked McCaw about receiving a New Year Honour.
"In the end, the conclusion that he drew was that he would love to take it but now wasn't the right time."
Key said he was deadly serious in making the offer, which is bestowed by the Queen.
"He made the call that he's still in his playing career and it didn't feel quite right for him, that day where he's no longer on the pitch may be the right time for him," Key said.
He says there was no formal offer made in the end.
"We didn't formally get to offer it to him in the sense that we knew if we offered it he wouldn't take it, but had he shown indication that he would've - then we certainly would've offered it to him, I certainly wanted him to take it."
Key told Radio Sport that McCaw would be among the country's knights one day.
"I have no doubt if we're the government or whoever is the government at that point will go back and talk to him, but it won't be happening on January 1, 2012."
He says an awful lot of New Zealanders will respect McCaw for that decision.