Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Injured McCaw set to link with ABs
Yahoo!Xtra Sport / Neil Reid

Richie McCaw will have an off-field presence with the All Blacks during his latest injury sidelining.

McCaw confirmed on Friday that he was a non-starter for the upcoming Iveco Series, with a knee injury sidelining him for a month.

However, he is expected to be fit for the Tri Nations, which kicks off in July.

Head coach Graham Henry has named veteran fullback Mils Muliaina as captain in the upcoming Iveco Series tests against France and Italy, starting with the June 13 clash against the French at Carisbrook.

While not a member of the 26-strong squad, McCaw's presence will still be felt in camp.

Forwards coach Steve Hansen said he would be on hand to help mentor his replacements in the No 7 jersey; Tanerau Latimer and Adam Thomson.

He will also be available if Muliaina needs a sounding board in terms of leadership.

"He will be around the place," Hansen said.

"He will be there to help Mils, if Mils wants that help. But Mils has stood up and become a very good leader himself over the last number of years for us.

"And I think he will do a great job for us.

"But we will probably use Richie again just helping me work with the sevens.

"We have two young guys there that will need a little bit of encouragement, so to speak.

"So why not use the best in the world to help us with that."

It is McCaw's second knee injury in 2009.

He missed six weeks of the just-finished Rebel Sport Super 14 with an unrelated knee problem.

McCaw said on Friday that he was keen to help out the All Blacks in any he could during his sidelining, but at that stage nothing had been confirmed with the coaching staff.

"I am not sure, I haven't spoken to them about those sort of things," McCaw said last week

"I will no doubt find that out.

"If I can offer something, then yeah I am more than happy and wanting to do that.

"But you have to be careful, I will have to talk to the coaches about what I can offer and I guess that will be a decision they will make.

"But I am not too sure at the moment."

The All Blacks gather in Auckland on Wednesday for a three-day camp ahead of the start of the Iveco Series.

Doubt still surrounds the availability of both Brendon Leonard and Ali Williams for the first test of the season.

They both suffered Super 14-ending injuries, being sidelined with hamstring and AchiLles problems respectively.

Hurricanes lock Bryn Evans, a member of the Junior All Blacks, will join the team as cover for Williams.

If the 61-test veteran is ruled out, Evans is set to be named on the bench for the series-opening test against France.

The All Blacks have sufficient cover for Leonard after naming three halfbacks in the 26-man squad.

"We have a small camp Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning this week," Hansen said.

"Then we will go home for the best part of Friday afternoon and Saturday, then reassemble on Sunday and look forward to the test."

No comments: