Sydney - Richie McCaw may not be written-off for the whole of the Crusaders campaign.
According to the stuff.co.nz website
, despite the tight deadline between his return to rugby duties on
July 1 and the All Blacks' opening test against the Wallabies on August
17, there remains a chance the All Blacks captain could represent the
Crusaders if they battle with injuries.
Expectations were always low that McCaw, whose sabbatical allows him
to skip all rugby until July 1, would be sighted during the Super Rugby
GALLERY - Super Rugby - Week 9
However, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said openside flank McCaw has not been rubbed out.
"I was under the impression that it depends on how he feels when he comes back," Blackadder said.
"We will just wait. I will just have to catch-up him then to see how he is tracking."
The All Blacks captain's holiday means he will miss 11 of the
Crusaders matches and the All Blacks' three tests against France in
June, leaving the round-robin matches against the Chiefs and Hurricanes
before the play-offs - if they qualify - on July 19-20.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is wary of McCaw being pitched
straight into Super Rugby action, stating he would play for his
Christchurch club to prepare for the Rugby Championship.
He also said McCaw would be uncomfortable replacing a player such as
Matt Todd who has often done an admirable job in his absence.
"It would be foolish for him to come back and go right into Super
Rugby. Getting some contact in club rugby would be the best avenue for
that," Hansen said last night.
"If there were injuries that might change. That's why he has been
named in the (Crusaders) squad - so he can be used if the circumstances
are right. Otherwise he is unlikely to play."
Blackadder said he has had no contact with McCaw.
"As far as I am concerned there is no expectation. It is really up
to Richie as to whether he wants to be available to play or not.
"I am not holding my breath or anything."
By allowing McCaw to only play for his club Hansen hopes his skipper returns refreshed for the international window.
If the Crusaders are thin on loose forwards in the lead-up to the
play-offs the prospect of Blackadder asking McCaw to start or sit on the
bench appears possible.
Blackadder reiterated he had not broached the subject with 32-year-old since the season began.