South Africa v New Zealand, Rugby Championship
Richie McCaw set to face Springboks
September 30, 2013
Richie McCaw's return will give the Springboks plenty to consider in the lead up to the Rugby Championship decider © Getty Images
New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw is set to be rushed back from injury to face the Springboks in the Rugby Championship in Johannesburg. McCaw has been sidelined since injuring his knee against Argentina on September 7.
It was initially feared he would miss up to five weeks with the medial ligament complaint but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen told reporters the 119-Test veteran was set to return at Ellis Park on Sunday (NZT).
"Richie got better and better last week as he trained in Argentina and feels he will be fine. I agree with that assessment," Hansen said.
Without McCaw, the All Blacks beat South Africa in Auckland 29-15 in a match marred by the sending off of hooker Bismarck du Plessis. The All Blacks are sweating on the fitness of prop Owen Franks, who injured his groin in the 33-15 defeat of Argentina last weekend in La Plata. Ben Afeaki has been placed on standby.
South Africa will be without lock Flip van der Merwe after he was banned for a week for a dangerous tackle in their 28-8 defeat of Australia in Cape Town. Van der Merwe was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on Wallabies winger Joe Tomane but was subsequently cited for striking after the commissioner deemed it met the red card threshold for foul play. Judicial officer Nicholas Davidson ruled the tackle was dangerous, executed high and leading with the forearm and without any attempt to grasp the player in the initial contact. He said it was also a strike, but not intentional as cited.
To claim the Rugby Championship title the Springboks, who have a better points differential but trail the All Blacks by five points, need to win with a bonus point, while also depriving the All Blacks of a bonus point.