New Zealand captain Richie McCaw played England with broken rib
Last Updated: 24/06/14 11:39am
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw played at least one Test against England with a broken rib.
The All Blacks beat England 3-0 this month and it has transpired their skipper played much of the series with the injury, which will rule him out of the remainder of the Super Rugby season.
It is not clear when the flanker suffered the injury – in the first or second Test - but medical staff thought he had suffered bruising rather than a break and cleared him to play.
The news of the break is a big blow to Canterbury Crusaders' hopes of winning a record eighth title.
"Unfortunately he got a broken rib which he did possibly in the second Test, or the first one," head coach Steve Hansen told New Zealand's Radio Sport.
"So, just a courageous effort for him to be out there and doing what he does.
"He played in the last one and he was really sore after that, so obviously he's done some more damage to it in the third Test," he added.
The Crusaders are third in the tournament and are currently top of the New Zealand conference, leading the Highlanders by three points.
McCaw has had a difficult season and came into the England series under scrutiny after a broken thumb ruled him out of much of the Crusaders' early campaign.
For the first time in his career, some pundits in New Zealand questioned his place in the team, particularly after an underwhelming performance in the first Test at Eden Park.
Hansen confirmed he talked to McCaw about the criticism.
"I discussed it with him because it's the first time in his career that he's been criticised," he said.
"Being the competitor he is...you just don't want him to go out there and try too hard.
"He was trying a little too hard and wanted to prove to everybody that he is still a great player and that's the first time he had to deal with it.
"We got an even better performance from him in the third Test than we got in the first two."
New Zealand's 17th consecutive test win in the third match against England equalled the record among Tier One nations set by the 1965-69 All Blacks and the 1997-98 South African teams.
Hansen's team can break the Tier One record outright if they beat Australia in Sydney in their Rugby Championship opener.
"You're expecting that there will be a day that you do drop one (match), but you're planning not to drop one," Hansen said.