during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies at AMI Stadium on May 3, 2014 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Wellington - Captain Richie McCaw entered the annals of New Zealand rugby folklore by playing in the 2011 World Cup with a broken foot but the pain was nothing compared to taking on England last month with fractured ribs.

McCaw, who makes his return for the Canterbury Crusaders in their Super Rugby semi-final against the Sharks on Saturday, played part of the second Test and all of the third in pain.

“By the end of that third Test I was pretty sore,” he told The Press newspaper in Christchurch. “With an injured foot it doesn't hurt when you go into contact - it is only when you are running.

“With the foot it didn't even enter my mind...towards the end of that World Cup. But with the ribs I knew towards the end of the game it was going to cause me a couple of weeks being laid-up - I paid for it afterwards.”

The 33-year-old McCaw, who said he had trouble sleeping after the third Test, sat out the Crusaders' final three Super Rugby matches of the regular season to allow the injury to heal.

The Crusaders' bye in the first week of the playoffs then gave him an additional week to alleviate any trepidation he may have had about going into contact against a bruising Sharks pack.

McCaw told coach Todd Blackadder that had he any fears about forcing himself back on to the field he would have told him so because he did not want to compromise the team's performance.

It was a similar approach he had with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen during the test series against England, he added.

“If I was going out there and worried about going into contact I wouldn't have played,” said McCaw who will start at blindside flanker on Saturday.

“As the game went on I got a few whacks and it got a bit worse. I wasn't hesitant about contact and felt it was a good decision to play.” – Reuters