Richie McCaw has successfully undergone surgery on his injured foot but will almost certainly miss the start of the 2012 Super rugby season with the Canterbury Crusaders.
The 30-year-old flanker, who played through the pain to help the All Blacks end their 24-year wait for a second World Cup on home soil, had surgery on Thursday to remove a screw that was inserted into his injured right foot earlier this year.
"Richie's surgery today went very well. The screw was removed and he also received a bone graft," All Blacks team doctor Deb Robinson said.
"In addition, he had an X-ray prior to surgery which showed the bone had started to heal to some extent in the four weeks since the end of the rugby World Cup, which is good news."
McCaw would need 10-12 weeks before he could start running again, the statement added, meaning he will struggle to be fit for the Crusaders' season-opening match against the Auckland Blues on February 24.
Complications from the foot injury forced the Crusaders skipper to miss a large part of the team's run to the Super final.