Injured Crusaders captain Richie McCaw has been reluctant to put a date on his return, but the team's next home match against the Reds looms as the most likely.
McCaw has recently returned to contact training with the Crusaders and has not played since leading the All Blacks to victory in the World Cup final in October, due to his injured right foot.
Coach Todd Blackadder said the Sunday, May 6, match against the defending champion Reds at Christchurch Stadium was a likely date for McCaw.
"He went for a run yesterday under the guidance of our physio John Roche and Rochey reckons he's never seen a man more possessed than Richie McCaw at the moment so I don't think he's going to be too far away,'' Blackadder told Radio Sport.
McCaw is likely to miss the Crusaders' next matches against the Hurricanes in Wellington and Waratahs in Sydney as his side battle back from a stuttering start to their campaign.
The 31-year-old watched the Crusaders defeat the previously unbeaten Stormers in the weekend alongside Blackadder in the coaches' box.
He recently had two small screws removed from his foot and was happy with how he is progressing, but wanted to be 100 per cent before playing again.
"I still don't want to put a date on it because I just need to see how the next couple of weeks progress,'' he said last week. "I had a wee op to get the screws out and it feels pretty good so all on track. The next couple of weeks I will build into full training and then, I guess, we will make a decision from there.
"I'm not frustrated,'' McCaw said. "I realise this is going to take a while and it's all progressing along as I would like. Sure, I would love to be out playing but I need to make sure when the foot says it's right to play, I play. You don't want to come back half-cocked with this team. You want to be ready to go.''
- APNZBy Patrick McKendry Email Patrick