Crusaders eye McCaw return

    2013-04-15 09:03
    Sydney - Richie McCaw may not be written-off for the whole of the Crusaders campaign.

    According to the 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 campaign.

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    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.

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