Fitness boost for All Blacks
Kiwi quartet making progress ahead of Springboks Test
Last Updated: July 21, 2009 11:02am
McCaw: Fitness hope
New Zealand have received an injury boost ahead of their first Tri-Nations match against South Africa as captain Richie McCaw, centre Conrad Smith, lock Isaac Ross and hooker Keven Mealamu all came through light training on Monday.
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There had been fears that the quartet would miss Saturday's match after they picked up problems during their 22-16 win over Australia in the Tri-Nations opener.
However, Mealamu played a full part in the recovery games while wearing heavy strapping to protect his sore calf.
And while McCaw and Smith had suffered dead legs and Ross had a knee strain, they featured in the majority of the training session.
Ross told Radio Sport afterwards that his knee is now 'feeling great' and he added: "We are managing it properly, doing the right things, so it's looking promising."
All Blacks forwards coach Steve Hansen, meanwhile, has played down fears that McCaw could be targeted by the Springboks in Bloemfontein.
The 28-year-old, who was sidelined for six weeks prior to the Wallabies clash, suffered concussion when the All Blacks paid the Boks a visit in April and also appeared to be singled out when the sides met in 2007.
Yet Hansen feels that the openside flanker can handle the extra attention providing it is above board.
"You always worry about your players but it's a Test match and a physical game and I don't think Richie would have it any other way either," he said.
"He gets plenty of attention from whatever team he plays for and, as long as it's not foul play and in the spirit of the game, that's just the way it is.
"He hasn't played too much this year and he's looking forward to playing a few games."