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Hosts fear McCaw KO for Oz clash

THE nervousness of Kiwis ahead of Sunday's World Cup semi-final against Australia was highlighted today amid a flurry of concern about the fitness of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

A sighting, first at the team hotel and then at an All Blacks training run, of young Canterbury Crusaders flanker Matt Todd sparked speculation that McCaw's ongoing foot injury may be more serious than feared as Todd regularly deputises for McCaw in the Super 15 tournament.

The loss of McCaw for Sunday's semi-final would be an enormous blow for New Zealanders, whose anxiety levels went into overdrive when star fly-half Dan Carter was ruled out of the tourn-ament with a groin injury.

Victor Vito would likely replace McCaw if the captain was unfit, and Vito's comment to a news conference might have been interpreted as a signal McCaw's injury is more serious than first indicated.

"Be it that he can't play ... either Thommo (Adam Thomson) or myself can fill in there," said Vito.

New Zealand will name their team tomorrow.