McCaw, Carter ruled out of RWC match vs. Canada
Updated: October 01, 2011, 01:07
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand(AP) New Zealand rugby fans endured their worst nightmare Saturday when first Richie McCaw, then Dan Carter sustained injuries which ruled them out of the last World Cup Pool A clash with Canada.
Captain McCaw and flyhalf Carter are seen as critical to New Zealand's chances of winning the World Cup for the first time in 24 years. The worst-case scenario for All Blacks fans has always been that both should be unavailable for the tournament's critical knockout rounds.
McCaw first withdrew from the Canada match with a recurrence of a "niggly'' foot injury. Within hours Carter, who had been named to captain the All Blacks for the first time in McCaw's absence, was ruled out with a groin strain.
Neither injury is thought to be serious but the mere fact that New Zealand's most-feared scenario has already come to pass will add to the anxiety of fans who have waited since 1987 for a second World Cup victory.
McCaw has been troubled since February from discomfort in his right foot, caused by surgery to have pins inserted to repair a stress fracture. The metal pins occasionally grate on the bone and McCaw missed several matches in this season's Super 15 tournament because of the pain that results.
"It's the same foot. It's just one of those things that's niggly and it has been for a while,'' he told reporters Saturday. "You'd hope it wouldn't have been but it's just the way it is.
"After seven months since the operation it would be nice not to have that but whenever you have bits of metal put in your foot there's the possibility of having these things.''
McCaw said it was important to manage the symptoms.
"Usually after a game, after a couple of days it improves, which is what it did this week,'' he said. "But I just woke up a bit sore after training yesterday.''
McCaw said there was no question he would be available next weekend's quarterfinals.
Carter injured a groin during kicking practice at the All Blacks' captain's run late Saturday afternoon. Hours after telling reporters he was "honored'' to be chosen to captain the All Blacks for the first time in his 84-test career, Carter was forced to relinquish that honor.
Hooker Andrew Hore will now captain the All Blacks in their last match in Pool A. They have already qualified for the quarterfinals, while Canada has no hope of doing so.
"It would have been easy to have made a decision (to withdraw) on Monday for the exact reasons we have now - we've already qualified for the quarters so don't need to take any risks,'' McCaw said. "But I was confident along with the medical staff it would behave the way it had in the past, which it did.
"But what I did yesterday, I don't know. There's a difference between being tough and playing with things that are a bit sore, and being stupid. There comes a point where you don't play because you can't do your job.''
Victor Vito has taken McCaw's place in the All Blacks' starting lineup for his 10th test match and his first on the openside flank. Colin Slade will replace Carter at flyhalf and Andy Ellis will join the New Zealand reserves bench.
Revised New Zealand team: Mils Muliaina, Israel Dagg, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Zac Guildford, Colin Slade, Jimmy Cowan; Kieran Read, Victor Vito, Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore (captain), Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Brad Thorn, Anthony Boric, Andy Ellis, Piri Weepu, Isaia Toeava.