Richie McCaw

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The injured prop, Owen Franks, has failed to recover from a groin strain and has been replaced by Charlie Faumuina at tighthead prop, with Ben Franks coming onto the bench.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