Tuesday Jun 7, 2011
All Black skipper Richie McCaw will miss Saturday's conference decider with the Blues and more of the Super 15 series because of further foot problems.
McCaw will be out for three weeks and has been told to concentrate on alternate fitness regimes like rowing, swimming and cycling.
"He has got some pain in his foot in a different place at the bottom of one of the screws in there," said All Blacks doctor Deb Robinson yesterday. "Scans show there is lots of activity and healing but in one area, the bone looks thin.
"We think some discretion here is the sensible thing and Richie will benefit from two or three weeks less load through it."
McCaw had an operation in February to screw together fractured metatarsal bones in his right foot. Since his return he has started four games, come on in another and missed the Stormers match because of concussion.
After the Crusaders' latest loss to the Reds, McCaw mentioned some pain in his foot and subsequent scans revealed the issue.
"It is not an 'oh my goodness' scenario," Robinson added. "It is related but the pain is in a different part of the foot.
"There is nothing sinister in this, the time is right to do it [rest] now.
"Richie could have boxed on but he mentioned it did not feel quite right so we went from there."
McCaw's ongoing drama adds to some of the concerns for the All Black selectors who have a number of test contenders still on the injured list. However, Sam Whitelock and Andy Ellis are scheduled to return for the Crusaders this weekend after lengthy rehab spells from ankle and thumb operations.
"If he [Whitelock] is feeling 100 per cent fit and he's good, I may be tempted to start him," said coach Todd Blackadder.
However, Daniel Braid, Isaia Toeava, Tony Woodcock, Conrad Smith, Israel Dagg and Colin Slade are still injured. The damage is spread across the other competing sides in Australia and South Africa where leading sports scientist Tim Noakes warned about the dangers of the extended Super 15 campaign.
He thought the series was at least five weeks too long and there was a link between players being overworked and the rising injury toll. Noakes warned that test players in the series needed a break before the World Cup if they were to play to their full potential.
Springboks like Fourie du Preez, CJ van der Linde, Jannie du Plessis, Heinrich Brussow, Ryan Kankowski, Juan Smith and Gurthro Steenkaamp have suffered serious injury.
The Crusaders' clash with the Blues on Saturday in Timaru should decide the winner of the New Zealand conference who becomes an automatic qualifier for the playoffs.
Matt Todd will return in place of McCaw with Kieran Read to captain the side and George Whitelock on the other flank.
Blackadder said it would be foolish to risk McCaw.
"If he was to play through it he could risk further damage. It is not great news for us, but if we manage him and rule him out for the next few weeks it is likely he will make a full recovery."
The Blues lead the New Zealand conference on 55 points - two ahead of the Crusaders.
Daniel Braid, Kurtis Haiu, Brad Mika, Liaki Moli, Filo Paulo, Isaia Toeava, Tony Woodcock, Colin Bourke, Tana Umaga, Scott Waldrom, Karl Lowe, Charlie Ngatai, Conrad Smith, Rodney So'oialo, Serge Lilo, Israel Dagg, Kahn Fotuali'i, Sean Maitland, Richie McCaw, Adam Whitelock, Kurt Baker, James Paterson, Colin Slade, Tony Brown.
By Wynne Gray