Todd spotted at NZ training

2011-10-12 10:41

Auckland - The nervousness of New Zealanders ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final against Australia was highlighted on Wednesday with a flurry of concern about the fitness of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

A sighting, first at the team hotel and then at an All Blacks training run, of young Crusaders flank Matt Todd provoked immediate speculation that McCaw's ongoing foot injury may be more serious than feared. Todd regular understudies McCaw in Super Rugby.

All Blacks management moved quickly to quell rumours, saying Todd had been called in along with a number of Blues Super Rugby players to provide opposed training for the New Zealand forwards.

McCaw has taken a restricted role in training throughout the World Cup while battling a foot injury he has described as "niggly" but not serious.

The loss of McCaw for Sunday's semi-final would be an enormous blow for New Zealanders, whose anxiety levels went into overdrive when star flyhalf Dan Carter was ruled out of the World Cup with a torn groin ligament. New Zealand hasn't won the World Cup since it hosted the inaugural tournament in 1987 and pessimistic All Blacks fans have already begun to fear that fate has turned against their team.

The injury to Carter, followed last weekend by his replacement Colin Slade, has left 22-year-old Aaron Cruden - effectively the third choice in his position - as New Zealand's No 1 flyhalf for the semi-final.

For an already worried nation, the sighting of Todd at training and a couple of cryptic comments by All Blacks backrowers Victor Vito and Jerome Kaino at a news conference on Wednesday were enough to cause heart palpitations.

All Black manager Darren Shand quickly quashed suggestions Todd had been called to Auckland as a standby for McCaw, signalling the captain's injury may be worse than the team has let on.

Shand told New Zealand media Todd also trained with the All Blacks when they were based in Christchurch in the week before their crunch pool match against France. He said Todd had come to Auckland "for some time out" and the All Blacks had invited him to train with them, as they were able to do under World Cup rules.

The All Blacks coaches have said McCaw's injury would be carefully managed in training this week, as it had been in the build-up to last weekend's quarterfinal against Argentina.

Vito would likely replace McCaw if the captain was unfit, and Vito's casual comment to a news conference on Wednesday might have been interpreted as a signal McCaw's injury is more serious than has been indicated.

"I think with Richie it's been the same thing for a little while now, just managing his foot (injury) and personally we're just trying to get our skipper back on the paddock," he said. "So be it that he can't play ... either Thommo (Adam Thomson) or I can fill in there."

All Blacks blindside flank Jerome Kaino also, inadvertently, stirred speculation.

"It's not too bad with Richie not taking too much involvement in training," he said.

"We know each other, we know our game and if Richie sits out (the semi-final) we have guys like Victor and (Thomson) who can step in, and we know they'll go quite well."

New Zealand will name their team to play Australia on Thursday.

* Click HERE for the latest RWC odds on BET.CO.ZA


  • MAXIMUS - 2011-10-12 10:57


      Johnny-BB - 2011-10-12 11:49

      ....All Blacks going to win the World Cup with their 2nd team..?? .......he he he he he ..!! ......Go AllBlacks..!! ........Go All Blacks..!!!

  • Alan - 2011-10-12 11:01

    It ill be so cool if McCheat is out. Then we can hope for a clean game.

      Scatman - 2011-10-12 11:07

      Don't hold your breath, Pocock is still playing.

  • oomtas - 2011-10-12 11:02

    that todd sheepshagger is class

      Alan - 2011-10-12 11:11

      a hot Toddy"?

  • Hay Seeds - 2011-10-12 11:04

    Good bye All Blacks, hope wales or France takes the cup, up the Wallabies too.

      Airborne68 - 2011-10-12 11:06

      Fvck the wannabees, Wales or France for sure.

      Lance - 2011-10-12 12:18

      @ Airborne..No, the Wannabees must win this weekend to show Uncle Bryce that Karma is not an Indian love-making book..Wales to take it in the final !

  • Byron - 2011-10-12 11:12

    Wait a minute now! If he is a training then NZ have a 31 man squad and should be Disqualified?

  • Strmsm - 2011-10-12 11:22

    Great replacement

  • GBB - 2011-10-12 12:08

    Now this is what will be good to watch, two of the best infringing players going head to head, cant wait Hope the ref is blind again, makes for an interesting game but hope AB sort out the Wannabies , from sad and in mourning SA

  • Lance - 2011-10-12 12:13

    Go Wallabies !!! Beat Uncle Bryces team comfortably ! (other than that....may Wales wipe Aus off the scoreboard in the final)

  • Kapa O Pango - 2011-10-12 16:56

    Behind you all the way AB's..."Au, au, aue ha!...Ka tu te wanawana"

      blackfan - 2011-10-12 20:19

      That's the spirit, ignore these bunch of " suurgatte" wishing the mighty AB's to lose this weekend. Sit back guys and watch the big boys play some fantastic enjoyable rugby for a change.Go All Blacks,mighty AB"s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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