Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Richie McCaw’s foot is “fine” and the New Zealand captain is set to lead his team in the Rugby World Cup semifinal against Australia, All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen said.
McCaw, who had a screw inserted into a bone in his right foot in February, has managed the injury throughout the tournament and is again training lightly before the Oct. 16 game at Auckland’s Eden Park, Hansen said.
The appearance of Canterbury open-side flanker Matt Todd at All Blacks training yesterday sparked speculation that McCaw, the only three-time world player of the year, was in doubt for the game at Eden Park and may even follow fly-halves Dan Carter and Colin Slade, and full-back Mils Muliaina in being ruled out of the tournament.
“Matt Todd’s in Auckland and it just made commonsense to have him here,” Hansen said today at a news conference. “That doesn’t mean to say that Richie’s foot is worse than it was, it doesn’t mean that Richie’s not playing, it just means that Matt Todd was in Auckland and that we wanted to use him for training as opposition.”
Todd deputized for McCaw in the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby competition earlier this year when McCaw was unavailable after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot and having the screw inserted.
McCaw missed New Zealand’s World Cup pool game against Japan with a calf problem and withdrew on the eve of the match against Canada because his foot was “niggly.” He played 72 minutes of the 33-10 quarterfinal win over Argentina.
“It was tough game for loose forwards because the Pumas were outstanding defensively and got a lot of numbers in the breakdown,” Hansen said. “I thought he played well.”
New Zealand, which is seeking a first World Cup title in 24 years, is scheduled to announce its semifinal team tomorrow. The only player in the 30-man squad who may be unavailable for selection is flanker Adam Thomson, who’s struggling to overcome an ankle injury, Hansen said.
“Our loose forwards have got niggles, but I’d suggest so have the other three sides,” Hansen said. “That’s what tournament rugby is about. The fittest stay the strongest and longest and you play with the niggles.”
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