http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10768446 By Patrick McKendry Thursday Nov 24, 2011
After a year in which Richie McCaw has endured all the highs and lows that rugby can provide, one thing was a constant - the pain from his injured right foot.
He will hope that nagging irritation from the fifth metatarsal under his right boot is a thing of the past following surgery in Christchurch today (Thursday) which All Blacks' doctor Deb Robinson described as successful.
"Richie's surgery today went very well," she said. "The screw was removed and he also received a bone graft.
"In addition, he had an X-ray prior to surgery which showed the bone had started to heal to some extent in the four weeks since the end of the rugby World Cup, which is good news."
Good news indeed. McCaw became a little exasperated with the attention his injury was receiving during the World Cup which reached a peak when fellow Crusaders flanker Matt Todd mysteriously appeared at training in Auckland in the latter stages of the tournament.
The All Blacks coaches said Todd was in the city anyway and was used merely to make up numbers but there were suspicions that he was there just in case the unthinkable happened and McCaw joined the already injured Dan Carter on the sidelines.
They were fulsome in their praise for the way McCaw, who didn't train during the final weeks, was playing through the pain, but the man himself would merely say in the hope of cutting the questions short: "The foot's fine, the pain's not that bad."
Now the 30-year-old can look forward to a pain-free rehabilitation before he gets back into business with the Crusaders during an extended Super Rugby competition in 2012.
He will be in plaster for two weeks and then in a moonboot for a month. Robinson said he should be running in about 10 to 12 weeks.
Given timelines for injured All Blacks are usually conservative and knowing McCaw's keenness to stay in the best possible shape, he will look to pull on the running shoes a little earlier than that.
McCaw played in only six of the Crusaders' 18 matches in 2011 and coach Todd Blackadder has talked of his optimism and belief that his captain will quickly be back to his best following his operation.
"He will get a really good base and will be as fit and strong as ever," Blackadder said recently.
"He hasn't been able to train or function normally all year. We just had to manage him. That was probably highlighted in those high-pressure [Crusaders] games when he wasn't as sharp as he could have been and that's fully understandable. I think for him next year he'll be absolutely good to go."
Although he will be out of action for about four months, the Super Rugby competition next year is extended and has a break mid-year to accommodate the three Ireland tests in New Zealand which should allow him to be available for the majority of the Crusaders' matches.
McCaw will mark down 2011 as a momentous year. Not only did he lead the All Blacks to their first World Cup victory in 24 years, he was part of a Crusaders team which reached the final of the Super Rugby competition against the Reds in Brisbane despite the trauma of the Christchurch earthquakes which wrecked their AMI Stadium home and forced them on to the road every week.
Although making the final was a testament to the spirit and talent with the squad, they fell at the final hurdle against a Reds team which called all the shots in front of a packed and partisan Suncorp Stadium.
He will hope to spend more time on the field in 2012 - and the training paddock.