Henry fretting over McCaw

By Wynne Gray

Richie McCaw’s latest concussion provoked All Black coach Graham Henry to make some urgent inquiries about the health of his star flanker.

But Henry’s telephone efforts to reach the Crusaders or his national assistant, Steve Hansen, who is in South Africa at the under-19 tournament, were unsuccessful.

"I only know what Robbie Deans said, that Richie was fine after the game. But it is a worry, isn’t it?" Henry said yesterday.

"It is a concern if you have got that sort of history, and we are worried about him. I don’t know much more than that, though, because for some reason I couldn’t get through."

Damage to lock Keith Robinson and now McCaw are the only significant injury worries for Henry as he surveys his list of contenders to play for the All Blacks against the Lions in mid-year.

Henry’s coaching adversary, Sir Clive Woodward, has been forced to evaluate a pile of injured men before he announces tonight his 44-man squad to tour New Zealand.

McCaw was poleaxed in the second minute of his side’s hefty 20-35 defeat when he tried to tackle Bulls prop Richard Bands.

The Crusaders captain was stretchered from the Loftus Versfeld ground in Pretoria and taken to hospital for a head scan and neck x-rays.

Crusaders doctor Deb Robinson said the flanker had recovered quite quickly and scans had not revealed any concerns.

He was "chirpy and in good spirits" but also had a headache and needed to be monitored closely.

It is the second disconcerting head injury for McCaw after he was concussed in the first test against England last June at Carisbrook.

He missed the next test, then played against Argentina, but the day after he complained of headaches which forced him to miss the entire Tri-Nations series.

McCaw recovered to make the All Blacks’ end-of-year tour, captaining the side in the test against Wales.

Contacted in South Africa last night, Hansen said he had been in Durban with the under-19s, not at the match in Pretoria, and could not elaborate on McCaw’s health.

McCaw had his head raked in several high-profile citing cases in this year’s Super 12 but had not been seriously hurt until yesterday’s game.

The openside flanker was allowed to return to the team hotel after checks at the hospital.

McCaw’s head injury will keep him out of training this week and the Crusaders’ next match against the Stormers in Cape Town.

"We will go through all the normal procedures with Richie, with all the usual tests for this type of injury. He won’t be playing next weekend," Dr Robinson said.

Sports physician Dr Christopher Hanna said the severity of the concussion could be gauged only after further neuro-psychometric tests were done.

McCaw’s previous concussion was a complex one because he had suffered ongoing headaches.

Injury woes

* June 12, 2004: McCaw suffers head injury against England.
* Stood down for second test.
* June 26: Returns against Argentina.
* June 27: Starts complaining of headaches.
* Misses Tri-Nations.
* Returns for NPC.

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