Sydney - The brutal side effects of the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup victory cannot be avoided by the Crusaders.
Damaged All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter are
expected to miss at least two or three of the Crusaders' opening Super
matches next season, but it is not just their physical injuries that
concerns coach Todd Blackadder.
Having watched his captain and vice-captain cope with the
strain of carrying New Zealand's hopes into the tournament, and then
be forced to deal with major injuries, Blackadder will give his captain
and playmaker extra time to refresh mentally.
Flyhalf Carter's tournament ended when he tore a
groin muscle the day before he was to lead the All Blacks for the first
time, against Canada, while openside breakaway McCaw, who will consult a
specialist on Friday, was forced to keep playing with the swollen foot
that prevented him training for most of the tournament.
''We are not sure about Richie's injury,'' Blackadder
said. ''We will make a decision after that [consulting a specialist].
Whatever he takes, he needs to get it right.''
Surgery appears imminent for McCaw, and if the screw in
the metatarsal bone in his right foot needs to replacing, it could be
several months before can run again.
Both men have clauses in their contacts that allow them
to skip the opening Super rounds, and it is likely they will resume
playing in mid-March.