New Zealand Rugby
Surgery set to prolong McCaw's career
ESPNscrum Staff
November 4, 2011
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw answers a question, Heritage Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand, October 22, 2011
McCaw has been troubled by a foot injury all year but still steered the All Blacks to World Cup glory © Getty Images

All Blacks doctor Deb Robinson is confident talismanic skipper Richie McCaw will return to the Test match stage following surgery on a foot injury later this month but the exact date of his return is still unclear.

McCaw had a screw inserted into the fifth metatarsal of his right foot after a suffering a stress fracture at the start of the year that sidelined him for the first seven weeks of the Super Rugby season. The injury resurfaced during the recent Rugby World Cup but McCaw played through the pain to help steer his side to the title.

Robinson announced on Friday that the 30-year-old will have a screw removed from foot in an operation in Christchurch following a well-deserved break and although the surgery and subsequent rehabilitation is set to sideline him well into 2012, Robinson insists he will be able to continue his career at the top level.

"It was always on the cards. But we wanted to wait and see what was happening," she told the New Zealand Herald. "Richie had a scan earlier in the week and saw a specialist yesterday to discuss the best options for him. The best option for him is to have surgery to have the screw removed, he will also have some bone grafting done and then his foot will be left alone to heal.''

Robinson insisted McCaw was fully fit entering the World Cup but injured his foot during the pool victory over France and was unable to train between games. "It was really good until the France pool match and that's when he was very sore,'' Robinson explained. "We knew he was sore. But we knew he was safe to carry on and wasn't doing any damage that he couldn't recover from later on. The big screw in there helped him get through to the final.

"He said he didn't want people to think he was being incredibly brave running around out there - he had pain, but he was ready to go each week. It would swell up in a game but would be better through the week. He recovered, but admittedly, he couldn't train. On game day we would give him some pain relief and anti-inflammatory.''

Robinson described McCaw as "a notoriously bad healer'' and was reluctant to put a date on his likely return although Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder fully expects him to play a key part in their latest Super Rugby campaign that kicks off in February.

"If we get it healed properly, he'll be good," added Robinson. "We have to take the time, and we've got that now. This was a big year, but now we're good. We'll probably give him a reasonable period of training before coming back to games, because we've learnt that games are a lot different from just training.

"It's a long time away and to put a date on it is silly - you can only get it wrong. But most fractures take six weeks to heal. Following the surgery, Richie will be in plaster for two weeks and then a moonboot for a month. After around 10 to 12 weeks he will be able to start running and then will gradually return to rugby training. The most frustrating thing for him is being in a moon boot, which limits him so much.''

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