Rugby: Injury puts McCaw out of All Black tests

A knee injury has forced All Blacks captain Richie McCaw out of next month's tests against France and Italy.

McCaw injured his knee in the Super 14 semifinal against the Bulls last weekend.

His symptoms worsened on the flight back from South Africa this week and he had a scan in Christchurch yesterday afternoon.

"The scan revealed he had a torn ligament on the postero-lateral corner (outside) of his right knee," All Blacks doctor Deb Robinson said.

McCaw would likely be available for the Tri Nations series against South Africa and Australia which kicks off in July.

Robinson said McCaw did not require surgery.

"He will have a period of complete rest and once the swelling and pain have subsided then he will be able to get into some bike work before he can resume running and rugby training."

It's the second time that McCaw has injured his right knee this year.

McCaw injured medial ligaments in the same knee in a match against the Highlanders on March 7 which required six weeks of rehabilition.

However, Robinson the new injury was not related.

All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said it was incredibly disappointing news for McCaw.

"As everyone knows, he is an outstanding and influential player and the leader of the All Blacks and we will be giving him every support he needs over the next few weeks."

Henry now has a selection headache on his hands at openside flanker.

Hurricanes No 7 Scott Waldrom, who made his All Blacks debut against Munster in November, will spend close to three months recovering from bones broken i n his back in the other semifinal against the Chiefs last weekend.

Uncapped Chiefs flanker Tanerau Latimer can further stake his claim with a strong performance in the Super 14 final against the Bulls in Pretoria on Sunday morning (NZT).

Other specialists to have performed well this season are Blues veteran Josh Blackie, Hurricanes workhorse Karl Lowe and abrasive Highlander Alando Soakai while George Whitelock has been lively when filling in for McCaw at the Crusaders.

Henry may also consider Highlanders blindside Adam Thomson and Hurricanes No 8 Rodney So'oialo for the role, which they filled on a part-time basis last year while McCaw was sidelined for several weeks with an ankle injury.

The All Blacks play tests against France in Dunedin (June 13) and Wellington (June 20), followed by a test against Italy in Christchurch (June 27).

They open their Tri-Nations campaign against Australia on July 18.

- NZPA

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