McCaw free to play in Cup final

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw is free to play in the Rugby World Cup final after being cleared of striking.

There was speculation the All Blacks legend would be cited for making contact with Springbok Francois Louw’s head with his elbow, however World Rugby has deemed the hit legal and have decided not to cite the flanker.

World Rugby spokesman Dominic Rumbles said the citing commission determined McCaw’s hip had clipped the South African’s right shoulder.

Earlier, coach Steve Hansen vigorously defended McCaw.

“There is nothing in it, so there’s nothing to talk about. Everyone has got a bit excited, and we move on.

“He (McCaw) is a man that draws a lot of attention because he’s been a great player, maybe the greatest player in the history of the game.

“If he is not in your team, he’s a pain in the rear end, so it goes that if you can’t get him on the track let’s get him off the track.

“It’s a mark of respect, really. He takes it in his stride, and the team takes it in their stride.”

Louw briefly went off nine minutes after the first half McCaw incident – which happened at a ruck – for treatment to a cut caused during a lineout.

“He had two knocks to his head, and we put some sutures in the one from an elbow during the lineout, but that won’t keep him out of the match on Friday,” Springboks team doctor Craig Roberts said, ahead of the Springboks facing a World Cup bronze medal match in five days’ time.

New Zealand will become the first team in rugby union history to make a successful world title defence if they win the final, but South Africa pushed them all the way before going down 20-18.

“When you have performances like we did in Cardiff (62-13 quarter-final win against France) it’s very difficult mentally to get back into that same spot,” Hansen added.

“It was a really tight, tough game (against South Africa) where we probably didn’t play as well as we could have.

“I think some of our game needs to be looked at. We will go into the final really hungry for a performance.

“We won’t be overrating ourselves, which will be good. I think we will lift, there will be enough excitement. The final will be energising in its own right.”

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