http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/super-rugby/squads/crusaders/5913253/Crusaders-face-McCaw-layoff RICHARD KNOWLER 05/11/2011
Even before the surgeon's blade slices into Richie McCaw's foot later this month, there will be no surprises for Todd Blackadder.
Yesterday it was confirmed that McCaw will require a bone graft and operation to remove the screw from the metatarsal bone in the problematic right foot that prevented him training ahead of the All Blacks' World Cup finals matches.
It appears likely that McCaw will miss at least a part of the Crusaders' season. All Blacks doctor Deb Robinson said his rehabilitation will involve him being in plaster for a fortnight, a moonboot for a month and after about 10 to 12 weeks he will start running. The Crusaders' opening match is against the Blues in Auckland on February 24.
What is expected is that Crusaders coach Blackadder has already started planning for another large chunk of a Super Rugby season without his captain. And it will not be an unfamiliar scenario after McCaw made just seven appearances in the Crusaders' 19 matches last season.
The stress fracture the openside flanker suffered in pre-season training last summer, which was followed by the operation, hindered his comeback until the eighth round on April 16. Continued foot problems and concussion limited his outings.
Matt Todd will again wear the No 7 jersey in McCaw's absence, with George Whitelock a further option to switch across from the blindside as cover.
"He [McCaw] has just got to get his foot right, that is the most important thing," Blackadder said. "There is no point him rushing back until he is 100 per cent right."
Although she refused to give a date as to when McCaw could return, Robinson said she expected him to play for the Crusaders and the injury was not career-threatening.
Rumours that the operation was botched and McCaw's foot was sore because the screw was too large were also dismissed by Robinson who noted another All Black who played in their 8-7 win over France in the World Cup final also had a screw of a similar size in his foot.
"I can say that having the big screw in there certainly held the thing together and allowed him to go through to the final."
Robinson also said McCaw had not been bothered by the injury earlier in the World Cup but it flared up in the third-round match against France. The prolonged problems were exacerbated by the fact that poor circulation to foot bones mean they are "notoriously slow healers".
The Dominion Post