Broken rib not enough to keep McCaw down
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw played through the England test series with a broken rib - but won't repeat the feat for the Crusaders in Super Rugby.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen confirmed today McCaw would miss the last three rounds of Super Rugby's regular season because of a broken rib sustained either in the second or third test against England.
The great openside flanker, who has played a record-breaking 127 tests for the All Blacks, may return for the Crusaders' finals campaign if the Kiwi conference leaders make it that far.
The Red and Blacks top the New Zealand conference on 41 points and are third on the overall standings. They visit the Hurricanes on Saturday night and finish their season with home clashes against the Blues and Highlanders.
Hansen told Radio Sport today that X-rays on Monday confirmed McCaw had broken his rib, and that it was likely the injury occurred before Saturday’s final test in Hamilton.
“Unfortunately he’s got a broken rib which he did possibly in the second test, or early in the third one. It was just a courageous effort for him to be out there and doing what he does,” Hansen said.
The All Blacks coach said they had not known the rib was broken before last Saturday’s final test in the England series, which the All Blacks nailed to complete a 3-0 sweep and run their winning streak to a record-equalling 17.
“He said he had a sore rib. The doctor had look at it and didn’t think it was broken, he just thought it was badly bruised. So he played the last one and was really sore after that. He’s obviously done some more damage to it in the third test.”
McCaw's defection is a blow to a Crusaders lineup that is already without the unavailable Nemani Nadolo (with Fiji) and probably fullback Israel Dagg (patella tendon injury). There is also some doubt whether No 8 and skipper Kieran Read will be able to play a full part this weekend after his recent ongoing head issues.
Coach Todd Blackadder does at least have quality cover at No 7 in the form of fringe All Black Matt Todd and was, predictably, putting on a brave face over the loss of his most experienced player.
“We have three huge derby games left to go in this competition and we never use player availability as an excuse to give less than 100 percent,” Blackadder said.
“We take pride in the depth that we have in this squad and we have confidence in our available players to do the task.”
Hansen told Radio Sport that how much rugby Read played with the Crusaders now was over to them. The No 8 played only the first 40 minutes of the final test against England after being kept out of the mix for the first two internationals.
“They’ll manage him through these next two or three weeks,” Hansen said.
“I’d say he won’t play full games, and they’ll try to get his rugby levels back up to a point where he can play 80 minutes without risking soft tissue or fatigue injuries.
“That’s one step at a time… we’ll sit back and allow them to get on with it. Reado will grow in confidence I’m sure.”
The Crusaders are in the box seat in the New Zealand conference, but are well aware of the importance of these final three weeks as the jockeying goes on for final positions.
The seven-time champions have not won the title since 2008 and have paid the price in recent years for having to play big finals matches on the road.