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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw eyes toughest of Sydney test

It couldn’t be a more familiar sight. The Crusaders, Super Rugby’s most successful team, arriving to play in another final and Richie McCaw, the most capped All Black ever, sporting a freshly stitched gash under his eye.

The team from Christchurch is after its eighth title and, even away from home, bookmakers are taking three times the money from punters on a Crusaders win.

The Crusaders have history on their side, having beaten the Waratahs in two previous Super Rugby finals.

But this time they are in Sydney, where they haven’t played all season, and McCaw is paying no attention to past records.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

Crusaders flanker Richie McCaw knows from past experience, both sweet and bitter, that a crucial moment can decide Saturday’s Super Rugby final result against the Waratahs in Sydney.

“When it comes down to one or two moments, the teams that are good enough to take those opportunities are the ones that win,” the All Blacks captain said.

“If you drop your guard for one or two moments, you’ll come second.”

He will be making his eighth Super final appearance, the first being in 2002 against the Waratahs when the Crusaders won the competition for the fourth time.

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Richie McCaw

GOOD NERVES: He may have 113 Tests, 3 World Cups and 137 appearances for the Crusaders to his name, but All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw still gets anxious before the big matches.

For Richie McCaw the job of preparing for big rugby matches should be as simple as flicking dust off his shoes.

That, he says, is nonsense – the anxiety will never go away.

Despite playing 113 tests, appearing in three World Cups and making 137 appearances for the Crusaders, the 33-year-old flanker still finds himself burning-off nervous energy ahead of crucial matches such as Saturday night’s Super Rugby grand final against the Waratahs in Sydney.

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Richie McCaw & Nemani Nadolo

STILL GOT IT: Crusaders and All Blacks veteran Richie McCaw celebrates a great night for the franchise with Fijian flier Nemani Nadolo.

New Zealand exhales. Turns out rumours of the decline of Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter have been greatly exaggerated.

McCaw and Carter both produced timely high-quality performances in Christchurch tonight as the Crusaders won through to their 11th – yes, 11th – Super Rugby final with a 38-6 dismantling of the Sharks. The Red ‘n Blacks are now 80 minutes away from their eighth championship – but notably a first since 2008.

On a night when Kieran Read illuminated the big occasion with a stellar demonstration of his remarkable quality, and Fijian find of the year Nemani Nadolo was equally as destructive, the old soldiers McCaw and Carter were not a million miles off the standard set by the best player in the world.

With Read, this sort of stuff is as predictable as it is enjoyable. He is a colossus of the game completely at the peak of his powers. His every minute on the field these days is to be savoured.

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Richie McCaw

TOUGH AS TEAK: Richie McCaw

He endured the pain of a broken bone in his foot during the 2011 World Cup but Richie McCaw said that was a doddle compared to playing with a fractured rib.

All Blacks captain McCaw hurt his rib in the second test against England on May June 14 and, thinking it was just bruising, he ignored the discomfort to play the third test a week later.

During that match, however, McCaw knew something was seriously wrong.

“By the end of that third test I was pretty sore. With an injured foot it doesn’t hurt when you go into contact – it is only when you are running.”

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

All Black captain Richie McCaw is likely to start for the Crusaders in their Super Rugby Semi-Final against the Sharks in Christchurch on Saturday.

McCaw, who has not played since fracturing a rib while captaining the All Blacks against England last month, took part in the Crusaders’ training session on Monday.

Assistant coach Tabai Matson said that McCaw only needed to emerge unscathed from training over the next two days to confirm his place in the side for the match at AMI Stadium.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw is expected to be declared fit for next week’s semi final clash

The return of Richie McCaw to the Crusaders for their semifinal next Saturday will present coach Todd Blackadder with a dilemma. Where to play him?

For Blackadder, it is a good problem to have, but someone within the hard-working and talented loose forward trio of Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua and Kieran Read is about to be disappointed, and it isn’t likely to be No8 Read, judged last year as the world’s best player.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

The Crusaders are on track to have All Black captain Richie McCaw fully recovered in time for their Super Rugby semifinal.

Their convincing victory over the Highlanders in Christchurch at the weekend has secured the Red and Blacks top spot on the New Zealand conference, meaning they’ll miss the first round of the play-offs this coming Saturday.

Coach Todd Blackadder has told Newstalk ZB that McCaw is recovering well and should make for a timely return from a rib injury.

“He’s probably a week away,” Blackadder said.

“He probably would be ready to take contact at the end of this week and so he’ll be ready for that.”

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

The Crusaders have confirmed that an x-ray revealed that Richie McCaw has a broken rib.

It is believed the rib injury was sustained in the second All Blacks test against England and is likely to keep McCaw out of contention for the next 3-4 weeks; a bitter blow for the Cantabrians who are pushing for top spot on the Super Rugby table.

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder said that while McCaw’s presence will clearly be missed over the next few weeks, the team is fully focussed on the task at hand.

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All BlacksUSAThe New Zealand Rugby Union confirmed on Tuesday the All Blacks will travel to take on the USA in Chicago on 1 November.

The world’s best will take on their American counterparts at the 61,000-seater Solider Field stadium, home to the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

Though rumours and speculation regarding this fixture have bubbled away for nearly six months, it was only on Tuesday that the match was publicly announced as the Kiwis’ newest overseas initiative, with the purposes of drawing on the developing market – boasting huge potential – in the USA, generating a ballpark figure of at least $1 million NZ dollars for the NZRU, and offering the Test side important preparation for the subsequent fixtures in Europe.

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Richie McCawCrusadersAfter a rocky start to the Super Rugby season, the stars are aligning for Todd Blackadder’s Crusaders with Richie McCaw set to return from a long injury layoff and help drive the side toward the playoffs.

The All Black skipper has been sidelined with a broken thumb for the past two months but may ease back into the action off the bench against the high-flying Brumbies in Christchurch on Saturday.

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CrusadersTodd BlackadderCrusaders coach Todd Blackadder will have a selection headache to deal with while choosing his side to play the Blues on Friday.

The seven-times champions underperformed in last week’s 10-18 reverse at the hands of the Chiefs and the performance is certain to result in flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal’s axing, with Colin Slade now available, but it is how Blackadder re-jigs the rest of his team that remains a mystery.

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CrusadersRichie McCawKieran ReadThere was a mixed bag on the selection front for the Crusaders on Monday – Kieran Read set to return, but Richie McCaw likely to be ruled out.

McCaw is in doubt for Friday’s Round Three encounter against the Blues at Eden Park.

The openside flank is nursing a tender calf, after the Crusaders’ 10-18-10 loss to the Chiefs at Christchurch Stadium at the weekend.

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Super RugbyThis weekend sees the start of Super Rugby, but only with 2 games in South Africa. For the rest of the Super Rugby Francises, including all New Zealand and Australian franchises, it’s another weekend of preparation matches for Super Rugby.

In New Zealand, the Hurricanes report that Tim Bateman has suffered a grade one medial knee ligament injury at training and will miss 2 to 6 weeks of rugby. Also in New Zealand the Crusaders have named Richie McCaw on the bench for their warm-up encounter with the Hurricanes.

In Australia, the Reds have made some changes amongst their props, with James Slipper in at loosehead and Greg Holmes in at tighthead and a few changes were made in the backline too, for their warm-up clash against the Melbourne Rebels. Also in Australia, Hugh McMeniman returns from injury and will run out for the Force A side to face the Pampas XV and Samoa A.

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New ZealandRichie McCawSteve Hansen, the All Blacks coach has made only 2 changes to the All Blacks starting 15 for their important Test match and a fitting finale to The Rugby Championship, against the Springboks of South Africa at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

As expected, Richie McCaw returns to captain the side and fill the openside flanker role, with Sam Cane dropping to the bench. Richie will play in his 120th Test match and has never had the opportunity to play in a Test at Ellis Park.

The injured prop, Owen Franks, has failed to recover from a groin strain and has been replaced by Charlie Faumuina at tighthead prop, with Ben Franks coming onto the bench.

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New ZealandRichie McCawThe All Blacks headed to South Africa on Monday banking on the return of talismanic captain Richie McCaw to put the seal on another successful season.

Although New Zealand require just a single bonus point to retain their Rugby Championship title, they are determined to seal it by beating arch rivals South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday.

And the All Blacks are confident they will have McCaw in their arsenal.

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New ZealandNew Zealand coach Steve Hansen has put his faith in the fitness and mental toughness of Richie McCaw by naming him to lead the world champions in their opening Rugby Championship clash against Australia on Saturday.

The 32-year-old has only recently returned to rugby after a six-month sabbatical from the game, playing 80 minutes of a lower level club match and making cameo appearances off the bench for the Crusaders in the Super Rugby playoffs.

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Richie McCawRichie McCaw’s likely return to Super Rugby via the Crusaders bench adds spice to Saturday’s playoffs opener with the Reds, a match offering a sneak preview of Australia’s looming Rugby Championship date with New Zealand.

The World Cup-winning captain made a low-key return to rugby on Saturday after a long sabbatical, playing a full match for Christchurch in a regional club competition.

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