Richard Knowler June 6, 2011
RICHIE McCAW'S foot injury has returned to plague him and he will miss the Crusaders' crucial final two matches before the play-offs.
Captain McCaw, who had a screw inserted into a fractured metatarsal bone in his right foot in early February, had a scan following the Crusaders' 17-16 loss to the Queensland Reds on May 29 that revealed the screw was irritating the bone. While the revelation would have caused All Blacks coach Graham Henry's pulse to spike a few notches with less than 100 days remaining before the World Cup, it is Crusaders boss Todd Blackadder who has to deal with conundrum in the immediate future. He has to skittle the Blues in Timaru this weekend and the Hurricanes in Wellington in the final round without the All Blacks openside breakaway while attempting to guide his side to the top of the New Zealand conference table.
''Richie's probably going to be out for the next two to three weeks,'' Blackadder confirmed yesterday. ''His foot just feels a little bit uncomfortable and he had a scan on it last week - it just showed the bone is healing nicely but it is still not 100 per cent. While it is not getting any worse, it just needs to heal properly.''
With his men having last week off with the bye, Blackadder was hoping to have a near full-strength line-up available for the must-win match against the Blues at Alpine Energy Stadium. With McCaw convalescing, No.8 Kieran Read will resume the captaincy and Matt Todd will again be given the No.7 jersey.
Blackadder added that he was not prepared to risk McCaw so close to the finals, which begin on June 24. ''It definitely has not broken again; there is just a bit of irritation around where the screw is on the bone,'' he said.
If the Crusaders finish in the top two on the overall Super ladder they will earn a welcome bye in the opening play-off round; for McCaw that extra week could be crucial to his recovery.