The signs are really positive
Injured All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw is on track to be fit to take on the Springboks at Ellis Park next week.
The veteran openside flank injured his knee in New Zealand's victory over the Boks in Auckland, and was initially ruled out for the rest of the competition, but his recovery has been quicker than anticipated which means he could be fit for the big showdown in Johannesburg.
McCaw's inclusion in the touring squad to Argentina caused some surprise, but the decision looks to be justified as he continues to progress well in Argentina.
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said that the signs are extremely encouraging that he will be able to play against the Boks next week.
He told Fairfax NZ News: "He's progressing a little bit quicker than we expected which is why he's here. There's a bit more ground to cover. This week is important for him to carry on that progress. The signs are really positive. He's certainly in a good space."
McCaw has a track record of handling injury well, playing through most of the 2011 World Cup with a foot injury, and Foster said that his attitude is a major part of his ability to take setbacks like this in his stride.
"Having a positive attitude towards your rehab is vital but that's something shared by all our boys. He's done everything right and I know he's very determined to come back and contribute on the park. That's certainly helped things," he said.
Although he will definitely not play this weekend, McCaw has still played an important role in the squad, and centre Conrad Smith said that he provides a calming influence on the team and a great sounding board for stand-in captain Kieran Read.
"He's very influential in the team and it's good to have him over here. He shares a lot of wisdom and helps Reado a lot in terms of this week as well. I'm sure he'll offer a lot even if he's not on the park," he said.
With flyhalf Dan Carter ruled out through injury, Aaron Cruden looks set to make a return to the team in the match against Argentina in La Plata on Saturday after recovering from a knee injury of his own.
"He's [Cruden] tracking very well so we expect him to be good to go," Foster said. "We'll get through Monday and Tuesday and make that final assessment but signs are very positive."