Broken foot nothing on fractured rib - McCaw

TOUGH AS TEAK: Richie McCaw.
TOUGH AS TEAK: Richie McCaw.

He endured the pain of a broken bone in his foot during the 2011 World Cup but Richie McCaw said that was a doddle compared to playing with a fractured rib.

All Blacks captain McCaw hurt his rib in the second test against England on May June 14 and, thinking it was just bruising, he ignored the discomfort to play the third test a week later.

During that match, however, McCaw knew something was seriously wrong.

"By the end of that third test I was pretty sore. With an injured foot it doesn't hurt when you go into contact - it is only when you are running.

"With the foot it didn't even enter my mind, to be honest, towards the end of that World Cup.

"But with the ribs I knew towards the end of the game it was going to cause me a couple of weeks being laid-up. I paid for it afterwards. I was pretty sore."

The All Blacks captain played the latter rounds of the 2011 global tournament with a broken metatarsal bone - an injury he kept secret from his coaches and team-mates.

While the constant throbbing in his foot would have been a reminder that something wasn't right, the flanker at least had some control over where he put his limb.

His fractured rib, which most likely was surrounded by damaged cartilage, was in a much more inconvenient place; if an opposition player ran down his channel McCaw had to grit his teeth and be prepared to take the pain.

Inhaling, he admitted, was not pleasant. Sleeping after that third test was extremely difficult.

He didn't bandage his ribs during the tests: "No. I put a pad on and that was about it.

"They probably got a bit worse during that (third) game but they were pretty sore."

Tomorrow night's Super rugby semifinal against the Sharks will be his first game since suffering the injury and the Crusaders' blindside flanker was confident his rib had fully healed.

There was no way he would have told coach Todd Blackadder he was fit if he wasn't, believing that would compromise the team.

That, he said, was the same attitude he had when he told All Blacks coach Steve Hansen he was fit to start the third test in Hamilton.

"If I was going out there and worried about going into contact I wouldn't have played. I felt I could go out there and for the most parts of the game I did. As the game went on I got a few whacks and it got a bit worse.

"I wasn't hesitant about contact and felt it was a good decision to play."

McCaw played at openside flanker against Sharks in the 30-25 loss on May 17 because Matt Todd had been sidelined with a calf injury.

Making amends for that defeat at AMI Stadium had strengthened his resolve to beat the South Africans.

"That was two months ago and we are in finals rugby, so things have changed a wee bit. One positive about getting tipped over last time is that there is a bit of steel there which you would expect in a semi but it probably adds an extra little bit.

"I know, certainty from my point of view, it does."


* The Crusaders won their first 8 semifinals before a 2007 defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria.

* They have been in the semifinals for the last 13 years, since their unbeaten season in 2002.

* This will be their ninth semifinal in Christchurch. They have never lost at home.

* The Crusaders have only failed to make the semifinals 3 times, 1996, 1997 and 2001.

* They have only once failed to score a semifinal try, in 2007.

* No South African team has won a semifinal in NZ. 

The Press