Richie McCaw is back running, but gives no guarantees he will return for the Super playoffs.
While the Crusaders are hopeful of having skipper McCaw fit for next weekend's final series, the openside flanker is not prepared to defy the doctors' orders and re-aggravate the screw in the metatarsal bone in his right foot.
McCaw, who helped arrange the Crusaders' flight on the Southern DC3 to Wellington today, said that while he was "as keen as hell" to play, he was anxious not to suffer another setback in World Cup year.
"I have done a little bit of running this week and it is feeling not too bad. I am going to run again on Saturday and we will make a plan from there," McCaw said last night.
"It is feeling OK, which is good. I just have to sit down with the docs to decide if it will be this week or the week after or whatever."
The injury flared up after the Crusaders played in Brisbane on May 29.
A screw was inserted into the fifth metatarsal bone in February but when he felt some discomfort recently, McCaw was advised to take another break. "It was just sore enough and getting a bit worse through the bone. The scan showed it was healing well but it just needed a little bit of rest to get on top of it."
The good news for All Blacks coach Graham Henry is that McCaw remains confident the injury will not be a long-term issue ahead of the World Cup. McCaw said his surgeon was upbeat.
"The guy that fixed it was not too concerned and he said just to give it a chance to settle. For the sake of a week now, it is probably worthwhile to get it right."
Meanwhile, McCaw played a leading role in arranging for the DC3 ZK-AMY to fly the Crusaders to Wellington after it was feared ash from the Chile volcano would disrupt their travel.
Although their commercial flights have since been cleared to go, the Crusaders have pressed on with their schedule to fly in the DC3.
McCaw, a keen pilot, is a patron of the Southern DC3 Trust. The bold plan to charter the aircraft, which can avoid the ash by flying below 3048m and has conventional propeller engines, was hatched yesterday morning.
Despite flying around 10 hours in the machine, which dropped US paratroopers in the Philippines in World War II, McCaw is not licensed to ferry commercial passengers.
Although its first flight was in 1935, the DC3 has only flown about 19,000 hours and must meet stringent aviation regulations to continue operations.
Anyone sweating on such precious rugby cargo being ferried could relax, said McCaw. "It is a great old machine. It will be a little noisy with two big old engines there.
"I have always talked about getting all the boys along for a ride one day, and had it in the back of my mind that we might need a charter to go somewhere. It is just a cool thing to do."
With Rodney Hall and Greg MacDonald flying the machine instead, McCaw's role has been diminished.
"I just might have to hand out the lollies, mightn't I?"
- The Press