Crusaders back young guns with McCaw missing

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 25/06/2014
Richie McCaw
Photosport
DYNAMIC DUO: Richie McCaw played in pain against England with a rib injury while Kieran Read is likely to return for the Crusaders off the bench.

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The Crusaders have revealed they were planning to rest injured All Black captain Richie McCaw against the Hurricanes and are set to start captain Kieran Read on the bench for the vital Super Rugby clash on Saturday.

An X-ray revealed McCaw fractured a rib in the test series against England and will be out for the next three to four weeks, but he should be back for the Super Rugby playoffs.

But Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said yesterday he had always intended giving McCaw "a breather" after he was "pretty banged up in a pretty physical" series with England.

He is also planning to limit Read's game-time against the Hurricanes in a clear show of faith that his young backrowers can get the job done in Wellington.

"We weren't going to play [McCaw] this week, we were going to give him a break," Blackadder said. "We felt he'd been at the coalface for three weeks in a row ... we knew he was quite sore, so we were probably going to give him a breather. Now he gets to have a couple of weeks."

Blackadder said the Crusaders were aware at a transition meeting with the All Blacks last Friday that McCaw was "a little bit sore" while preparing for the third test.

"He said he struggled on Sunday [after leading the All Blacks to a 36-13 win], when he got out of bed he was quite stiff. As the day went on, he got better and better and when he reported [to the Crusaders on Monday], he felt he was a lot better than Sunday, but still not good enough."

The X-ray revealed a "small fracture, so that probably explained the soreness".

Blackadder said McCaw was "gutted" because the veteran flanker had ben "really excited" at returning to Super Rugby.

"If anything, he's more disappointed than we are that he's out. There's nothing he can do about it. He's [still] going to make a massive contribution to this team, he's already given a lot of his intellectual property, and he's helping to prepare us for a big job on Saturday. He will certainly be doing a lot of influencing behind the scenes."

confirmed. This just delays it for a couple of weeks. He's really disappointed not to be available, but that's just life and part and parcel of a physical contact sport."

said Read, who played the first half of the third test after six weeks out with concussion, was "ready to go, which is great" against the Hurricanes but the coaches were still weighing up "whether to start him or put him on the bench".

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"We're probably steering more towards bringing him off the bench."

Blackadder said Read's performance against England was "outstanding" but he had only had "40 minutes in the last six or seven weeks".

- The Press

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