Thursday, May 28, 2009

Injured Richie McCaw to miss tests

WOUNDED KNEE: A strain to Richie McCaw's right knee will see him miss the opening matches of the international season. PETER MEECHAM/The Press

A knee injury has forced All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw out of next month's tests against France and Italy.

Scans yesterday revealed the openside flanker strained ligaments in his right knee during the Crusaders' semifinal against the Bulls last Sunday and he will now target the Tri-Nations tests in July to make his comeback.

Although similar to the ligament strain he suffered against the Highlanders on March 7 which required six weeks' rehabilitation it is understood the injuries are not related. He will not require surgery.

All Blacks Doctor Deb Robinson said McCaw's symptoms worsened on the flight home from South Africa this week and he had a scan in Christchurch yesterday afternoon.

"The scan revealed he had a torn ligament on the postero-lateral corner (outside) of his right knee," Dr Robinson said.

Dr Robinson said, as a result, McCaw would be unavailable for the Iveco Series test matches against France and Italy next month but would likely be available for the Tri-Nations, which kicks off in July.

She said McCaw did not require surgery.

"He will have a period of complete rest and once the swelling and pain have subsided then he will be able to get into some bike work before he can resume running and rugby training."

It's the second time McCaw has hurt his right knee this year. Dr Robinson said McCaw had injured the medial ligament in the knee in the Crusaders-Highlanders match in March but this latest injury was not related to that injury.

All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said: "It's incredibly disappointing news for Richie. As everyone knows, he is an outstanding and influential player and the leader of the All Blacks and we will be giving him every support he needs over the next few weeks."

McCaw's setback will provide a major headache for Henry who this week was told Hurricanes opensider Scott Waldrom, who made his All Blacks debut against Munster in November, will spend a lengthy term in rehabilitation after breaking three bones in his back in the other semi against the Chiefs.

Earlier this year Henry indicated he was looking to groom a No 7 to back up McCaw, but will now be forced to either start a rookie at test level or shunt blindside flankers Adam Thomson or Kieran Read, or possibly No8 Rodney So'oialo, into the fetcher's role.

George Whitelock and Tanerau Latimer, both specialist opensiders, have yet to represent the All Blacks but Henry now has to decide if he believes they have the ability and temperament to operate at that level. Josh Blackie could be another candidate but injury curtailed his season with the Blues.

Ad Feedback The All Blacks are scheduled to play two tests against France and another against Italy before they open their Tri-Nations campaign against Australia on July 18.

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