New Zealand captain and talisman Richie McCaw will rely on painkillers and his own indomitable spirit rather than sit out this weekend’s Rugby World Cup quarter final against Argentina because of an agonising foot injury.
The All Blacks skipper continued to be troubled by the injury that kept him out of the pool match against Canada and sidelined him for much of the Super series earlier in the year.
“As long as we are in the tournament I’m confident he will be able to play,” All Blacks assistant coach Steven Hansen confirmed Thursday.
After losing star fly-half Dan Carter for the rest of the World Cup because of a serious groin injury, the last thing the tournament favourites need is to be without McCaw as well and Hansen was definite that would not happen.
The troublesome foot would be managed with the openside flanker on a restricted training schedule and wearing running shoes rather than boots in the lead up to the All Blacks quarter-final match against Argentina in Auckland on Sunday.
And Hansen added: “We don’t get him involved in the cleanouts for example, the physical hard body contact stuff.”
“We know that he’s had a foot problem for a while and he just manages it. He just has to have it managed.
“We’re down to the business end and while we’re still in the tournament he’ll be available, but we’re just going to have to make sure we do what we’ve done with it all year.”
The 30-year-old McCaw, who became the first All Black to play 100 Tests in the 37-17 World Cup pool victory over France, had a screw inserted in his right foot at the start of the year when he underwent surgery for a stress fracture.
He missed the first two months of the Super 15 series and played a restricted role on his return because of the troublesome soreness.
McCaw referred to it as a “niggle” that had bothered him since the operation.
“Every week, to some degree, it is a bit niggly,” he said when he ruled himself out of the Canada game last weekend to avoid the risk of further damage before the knockout phase of the tournament.
“It’s just one of those things. It probably needs a rest, to be fair.
“It was a bit frustrating but it is a niggle I have dealt with for a while. It’s just not quite right.”
The possibility of further surgery after the World Cup has not been ruled out but Hansen said McCaw would not be playing if there was a risk of long-term damage.
The only other injury concern for the All Blacks was to wing Zac Guildford who suffered a slight hamstring tear in training on Wednesday and would not be considered for the All Blacks team to be named Friday to play Argentina.
Hansen also attempted to downplay the significance of McCaw’s injury saying it was not different to all players in the other seven teams still in the tournament.
“Everyone at this stage in the tournament in every team is playing through a bit of pain,” he said, adding that how they managed it was the main issue.
“How many Tests have we had over the last six or seven weeks, including the pre-season Tests that the northern hemisphere guys would have had?,” former Wales coach Hansen asked.
“They probably played six or seven Tests so people are going to be carrying little niggles and it’s just how big a threshold you’ve got for that pain.”