Yahoo!Xtra Sport / Neil Reid - July 11, 2008, 4:38 pm
Richie McCaw says he might be ready for the All Blacks' July 26 showdown against the Wallabies, but he won't be rushed into making a premature return.
The inspirational captain and openside flanker has missed the All Blacks' first two tests of the Tri Nations with an ankle injury suffered in last month's 44-12 win over England.
The initial prognosis was the McCaw was likely to be sidelined for at least six weeks, meaning he would be out of the test arena until the All Blacks' South African leg of the Tri Nations.
But McCaw has a reputation as being a quick healer.
He told Yahoo!Xtra in Dunedin on Friday afternoon that his recovery was proceeding well, and he hadn't ruled out the chance that he could be back in black to take on the Wallabies in Sydney later this month.
"They said six weeks when I did it and we are at the three-week mark now," McCaw said."And I don't think there is too much change to that to be honest. I just started doing a bit of jogging this week and hopefully will be able to get into a bit more running next week. I suppose once we get into that I will be able to have a real good feel as to how it should be. But it has progressed as it should and I can walk around reasonably freely now. So hopefully next week, running will be good."
When pressed further on the chances of being available for the Sydney test, an upbeat McCaw said:
"I don't want to put any time on it. I wouldn't want to do that myself, you might end up doing things different to the way you would do it. It is not out of the question, but there are a few things on what we need to do first."
McCaw joined up with the All Black camp early on Friday.
He also made a late entry into the environment before last week's 19-8 win over the Springboks in Wellington.
Head coach Graham Henry last week explained while it was great to have McCaw around, it was also important that some space was maintained between the team and their injured leader.
That would allow stand-in captain Rodney So'oialo to lead in his own way.
McCaw said he had been impressed with what he had seen from the All Blacks in his absence, both on and off the field.
He added he was not surprised by the composure and impressive mental strength displayed by the All Blacks last weekend.
"I always knew they were going to do that," McCaw said."There are some good players and a lot of experience and I knew that things were just going to carry on. Teams like this are more than just one person. I always knew that was going to be the case. The guys fronted up well last weekend. I haven't been around until today, but apparently they have had a pretty good week too this week, so hopefully they can do the same."