World Cup winning All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has targeted an April return to rugby action, although the specific nature of his well publicised injury means that the 103-test flanker will not rush anything.
McCaw had the troublesome screw removed from his foot last year, after fighting through the pain barrier to guide the All Blacks to their first World Cup success in 24 years, beating France 8-7 in the final.
The cast is off and McCaw is not only walking freely, but has resumed running training.
Speaking at the 2012 Investec Super Rugby launch, McCaw told stuff.co.nz that he may only miss the first five rounds of action for the Crusaders, and be back in the intimidating cauldron of Johannesburg on April 1.
“The foot is really good,” he said.
“I've just started back running. I'll progress over the next few weeks to hopefully get back out on the field soon, but hopefully it's all behind me.”
He said as he began to resume full training, including the final stage contact work, he would know more accurately how ready he is.
“By March, I should be pretty close to knowing when I'll be back, but I'd say some time in April. But I don't want to put too tight a time frame on it,” he said.
McCaw was unable to play a full season last year, but made enough contributions to the Crusaders heroic campaign that saw them reach the Super Rugby Final despite not having a home game.
He said that playing in front of local support in the Super Rugby Final’s Series was crucial if a team was to be a chance of claiming the title.
"You've got to be qualifying top of your pool to get at least one home playoff to give yourself a chance, because travelling is pretty tough,” the All Blacks and Crusaders captain said.
“If you're going win it, you've got to get that sorted."