Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Todd called up to replace McCaw

Matt Todd has responded to the All Blacks' emergency call-up following Richie McCaw's knee injury and will join the side in Auckland ahead of Saturday's test against an ominous-looking Springboks at Eden Park.

The Canterbury and Crusaders flanker will play back-up to 21-year-old Sam Cane in what will be the biggest week of the Chiefs' loose forward's career.

The Springboks cut loose in breaking their hoodoo over Australia at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane last night, the Wallabies having no answer to their forward power or backline threats in the 38-12 defeat.

McCaw's prognosis was a little better this morning following his medial ligament injury in the 28-13 win over the Pumas at Waikato Stadium last night.

After saying McCaw could be out for four to five weeks last night, coach Steve Hansen today said his skipper could be available to play the Springboks in Johannesburg on October 6.

That would mean McCaw would miss only the South Africans this Saturday and the return match against Argentina in Buenos Aires on September 29.

"He'll stay with us for the week and by the end of next week we'll have a pretty good idea [of a return date],'' Hansen said of McCaw. "Hopefully, maybe, he can get to the second South African game. Definitely, Doc thinks he'll make the third Bledisloe game [in Dunedin on October 19].''

Cane, who started in all three of the June internationals against France when McCaw was having his sabbatical, will wear the No7 jersey against the Boks in what will be a true test of his qualities.

"He's ready for it,'' Hansen said. "He's played some good rugby for us. He hasn't played a poor test I don't think and he's played some very very good ones. He's comfortable and that's important. I think a lot of players in years gone by have been, I wouldn't say frightened, but certainly burdened by the expectations which come with being an All Black. The way we've tried to do things here, and some may say it's wrong and others right, is that we've tried to introduce them slowly and get them used to the expectations and what it's like to be an All Black.

"Sam's had a pretty good apprenticeship so he's ready to rumble.''

Hansen said no other injuries resulted from the test in Hamilton. Flanker Liam Messam comes back into the frame following his hamstring problem and first-five Aaron Cruden could be available following his knee injury.

- APNZ

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