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McCaw to sit out Crusaders' opener
February 10, 2014
Blackadder will slowly ease McCaw back into the season, sitting him out of the Crusaders' opening match © Getty Images
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Flanker Richie McCaw could yet join fellow-All Blacks loose forward Kieran Read on the sideline for the Crusaders' opening Super Rugby match against the Chiefs in Christchurch.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder confirmed on Monday that Crusaders captain and standout Test No.8 Read will miss the game on February 21, as has always been the plan. However, Test great and New Zealand captain McCaw could also be eased slowly into the season, with Blackadder considering playing Matt Todd on the openside flank against the defending champions.

McCaw, 33, returns to the field in the Crusaders' final pre-season match against the Hurricanes in Levin on Friday. However, Blackadder says early-season form will dictate his selection. Todd, has already impressed in the team's opening trials and practices.

"It's not just about getting guys back and integrating them and letting them get slowly up to speed," Blackadder said. "It's about who's ready to go at the start and that may mean that Matt Todd is more physically ready to go and up to speed in his skill executions than Richie McCaw. That's not to say Richie is not a great player but horses for courses."

Todd, 25, made his All Blacks debut last year with Test appearances off the reserve bench before a chest muscle injury in September ended his season. Even if Todd gets the nod for the No.7 jersey against the Chiefs, McCaw could still be considered at No.8 in place of Read, voted world and New Zealand Player of the Year in 2013.

Other loose forward options include the Whitelock brothers, George and Luke, who have both played one Test. Blackadder says Read will be available for the Crusaders' round two game against the Blues in Auckland.

"That's a far better plan than the original one where he wasn't going to be available for the first three weeks."

© AAP

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