All Blacks Recall Weepu, Gamble on McCaw for Rugby Championship

Top-ranked New Zealand recalled scrum-half Piri Weepu for its final two Rugby Championship matches and will take captain Richie McCaw to Argentina and South Africa as he recovers from a knee injury.

Weepu, 30, hasn’t played for the All Blacks since being dropped after the third Test against France in June and returns to a 28-man squad in place of TJ Perenara, who was ruled out for six weeks because of a stress fracture in his left leg.

McCaw injured a knee ligament Sept. 7 against Argentina and had been expected to miss the rest of the southern hemisphere championship, which New Zealand leads after winning its first four games. Although the openside flanker won’t play against the Pumas in La Plata on Sept. 28, he may be fit to face the Springboks a week later, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.

“With Richie, we believe that the best chance of having him available to play against South Africa is by having him travel with the squad and getting hands-on treatment from the All Blacks medical staff,” Hansen said in a statement.

A decision on whether or not McCaw is available for the Oct. 5 match in Johannesburg will be made next week. If he’s not available, fellow openside Matt Todd will join the team in South Africa, the All Blacks said.

Tom Taylor was added to the squad in place of fly-half Dan Carter, who suffered a tournament-ending injury in the All Blacks’ 29-15 win against the Springboks last weekend.

With two rounds left, the All Blacks lead the standings with 18 points, four clear of South Africa. Australia is third with four points, two ahead of Argentina, which today named Patricio Albacete in a 26-man squad to face the All Blacks and Wallabies after the second-rower recovered from a hamstring injury picked up in the tournament opener.

NEW ZEALAND SQUAD:

Backs: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Julian Savea, Charles Piutau, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Aaron Cruden, Tom Taylor, Beauden Barrett, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Smith, Piri Weepu.

Forwards: Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Steven Luatua, Samuel Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Jeremy Thrush, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Dane Coles, Keven Mealamu.

ARGENTINA SQUAD: Horacio Agulla, Patricio Albacete, Marcos Ivan Ayerza, Marcelo Bosch, Manuel Carizza, Felipe Contepomi, Agustin Creevy, Tomas Cubelli, Julio Farias Cabello, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Santiago Fernandez, Juan Figallo, Mariano Galarza, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, Eusebio Guinazu, Juan Martin Hernandez, Juan Jose Imhoff, Martin Landajo, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Nahuel Lobo, Benjamin Macome, Pablo Matera, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Federico Nicolas Sanchez, Gonzalo Tiesi, Joaquin Tuculet.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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