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    McCaw returns for Crusaders

    2014-05-01 12:30

    Christchurch - Richie McCaw will make his return for the Crusaders against the Brumbies on Saturday after two months out with a broken thumb, but fellow loose forward Kieran Read is again sidelined with concussion.

    McCaw broke his thumb against Auckland Blues on February 28 and has missed six games for the Crusaders, who after struggling earlier in the season have won three successive matches and are just outside the top-six playoff spots in eighth on 22 points.

    The 33-year-old New Zealand skipper has been named to start the match against the second-placed Brumbies as blindside flanker instead of his normal position on the openside of the scrum.

    Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder had faced a potential selection dilemma with McCaw's return, having told local media he would be reluctant to move Matt Todd from the openside role given how well he had been playing.

    McCaw's versatility - he can play all three loose forward positions - made that decision easier for the coach and allowed him to name both to start the game.

    Luke Whitelock will play in Read's No 8 spot.

    Read, the 2013 International Rugby Board's player of the year, sustained a head knock against the Waikato Chiefs on April 19 and was not considered for the match against the Brumbies in Christchurch. The Crusaders had a bye last week.

    It is the second time this season Read has been hampered by a head injury and Super Rugby teams have been told to ensure players with concussion-like symptoms are not rushed back into action.

    The confirmation of McCaw's return to action was the second piece of good news for Blackadder on Thursday with All Blacks prop Owen Franks confirmed as having signed a three-year contract extension with the team.

    The 26-year-old, who has also re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union and will be available until after the British and Irish Lions tour of the country in 2017, has been a regular in the team since he made his debut in 2009.

    "He is the consummate professional, never giving less than 100 percent in training or when playing and is always leading by example," Blackadder said in a statement.

    "He has the drive and commitment to stay at the top of his game for a long while yet, so it is brilliant to have Owen on board for the next three years at least."

    Teams:

    Crusaders

    15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty (captain), 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Richie McCaw, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett

    Substitutes: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Nafi Tuitavake

    Brumbies

    15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio

    Substitutes: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Tom McVerry, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Pat McCabe

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