Henry: McCaw is managing injury
October 7, 2011
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw is carefully managing a foot injury that is hampering his preparation © Getty Images
All Blacks coach Graham Henry admits that captain Richie McCaw faces one of the biggest challenges of his career ahead of Sunday's quarter-final with Argentina.
Skipper McCaw has been unable to participate fully in his team's training sessions this week and he will need to draw on his full experience if he is to slot seamlessly into the pace of the game come Sunday, according to Henry. And in a week where the All Blacks have been delt the monumental blow of Dan Carter's World Cup ending injury, Henry will hope his captain can step up to the plate in his 101st Test.
"It's (McCaw's foot) niggly and he's looking after it as best he can," Henry said. "It's just an ongoing thing really. He's got to do what he can do during the week to perform at the weekend. He's controlling himself very well I think.
"He's a pretty experienced sort of rugby player. He'll do what he thinks is best to make sure he can play well on Sunday. He hasn't played for a while and he's not preparing as he normally does, so it's going to be a big mental challenge for him."
McCaw will start alongside Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read in the All Blacks' back-row. It is the first time the trio have been reunited since they dispatched the Wallabies at Eden Park on August 6.
Henry said: "Jerome Kaino is playing the rugby of his life at the moment and Kieran Read has played 50 minutes over the last six weeks, so there's a few challenges for them, but they've got a lot of experience together and they're a world-class unit when they're right."
With McCaw having spent a week wrapped in cotton wool, Henry is not taking anything for granted over the fitness of his captain. While the All Blacks hope to have three games left in the World Cup, Henry will delay any decision over McCaw's fitness until the outcome of their quarter-final with the Pumas has been determined.
"I'll tell you after Sunday," McCaw said. "He hasn't played a couple of weeks. Hopefully we've got three games ahead of us and it's just a matter of trying to make sure he's available for each of those three games.
"He's got to tailor what he does running wise to be able to handle that eventuality."
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