Captain Fantastic: McCaw rescues Crusaders

07:07, Jun 16 2011
Crusaders
Luke Romano of the Crusaders breaks through a tackle during the Super Rugby trial match against the Melbourne Rebels.
Crusaders
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders is tackled by Stirling Mortlock of the Rebels during their Super Rugby trial match.
Crusaders
Luke Romano of the Crusaders breaks through a tackle during the Super Rugby trial match against the Melbourne Rebels.
Crusaders
Peter Betham of the Rebels is tackled by Willi Heinz of the Crusaders during their Super Rugby trial match.
Blues v Crusaders
Crusader Adam Whitelock is surrounded by Blues players Jerome Kaino, Daniel Braid, Keven Mealamu and Benson Stanley at Eden Park.
Blues v Crusaders
Crusaders centre Robbie Fruean is tackled by Blues halfback Alby Mathewson and Isaia Toeava at Eden Park.
Blues v Crusaders
Crusaders right wing Sean Maitland is knocked over by Blues fullback Isaia Toeava and flanker Jerome Kaino at Eden Park.
Blues v Crusaders
Crusaders right wing Sean Maitland scores the opening try of the match against the Blues at Eden Park.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues lock Ali Williams disrupts lineout ball for Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock at Eden Park.
Crusaders v Waratahs
Sonny Bill Williams of the Crusaders beats the tackle of Dave Dennis and Ben Mowen of the Waratahs at Trafalgar Park.
Crusaders v Waratahs
Brad Thorn of the Crusaders is tackled by Kane Douglas of the Waratahs.
Crusaders v Waratahs
Crusaders players celebrate a try during the round three Super Rugby match against the Waratahs at Trafalgar Park.
Crusaders v Waratahs
Israel Dagg of the Crusaders passes during the round three Super Rugby match against the Waratahs at Trafalgar Park.
Crusaders v Waratahs
Sonny Bill Williams chats with the fans after the game against the Waratahs at Trafalgar Park.
Crusaders v Waratahs
Fans show their support for the Crusaders at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Crusaders v Waratahs
Crusaders Sean Maitland is caught in a Waratahs tackle late in the second half.
Crusaders v Waratahs
The Crusaders' Matt Todd clears the ball as he is caught in a Waratah's tackle.
Highlanders vs Crusaders
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders makes a break during the round five Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders at Carisbrook, Dunedin.
Highlanders vs Crusaders
Matt Todd of the Crusaders tries to score during round five Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders at Carisbrook, Dunedin.
Highlanders vs Crusaders
Josh Bekuhis of the Highlanders is tackled during the round five Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders at Carisbrook, Dunedin.
Highlanders vs Crusaders
Nasi Manu of the Highlanders makes a break during the round five Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders at Carisbrook, Dunedin.
Highlanders vs Crusaders
Tony Brown of the Highlanders passes during the round five Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders at Carisbrook, Dunedin.
Crusaders vs Brumbies
Crusader Andy Ellis makes a break to set up Sean Maitland during their Super Rugby match against the Brumbies at Trafalgar Park, Nelson.
Crusaders vs Brumbies
Israel Dagg looks to make a break for the Crusaders during their match with the Brumbies at Trafalgar Park, Nelson.
Crusaders vs Brumbies
Israel Dagg looks to make a break for the Crusaders against the Brumbies at Trafalgar Park, Nelson.
Crusaders vs Brumbies
The Crusaders' Sonny Bill Williams gets some special treatment after the victory over the Brumbies in the Super Rugby.
Crusaders vs Brumbies
The Crusaders' Chris Jack in his 100 Super Rugby match looks for space against the Brumbies.
Crusaders vs Brumbies
Crusader Tom Marshall looks to dissect the Brumbies defence during their Super Rugby match at Trafalgar Park, Nelson.
Israel Dagg
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg beats Lwazi Mvovo to the Twickenham corner flag.
Sonny Bill Williams
Crusaders second five-eighth Sonny Bill Williams cuts through the Sharks defence.
Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams offloads in the tackle of Sharks fullback Louis Ludik.
Zac Guildford
Crusaders winger Zac Guildford takes on Sharks centre and captain Stefan Terblanche.
Sean Maitland
Crusaders winger Sean Maitland soars over to score the first of his two tries against the Sharks at Twickenham.
Try celebration
Zac Guildford, Robbie Fruean, Dan Carter and Andy Ellis celebrate after Carter crossed for his try against the Sharks.
Sean Maitland
Winger Sean Maitland celebrates his first try in front of the Twickenham crowd.
Sharks and Crusasders supporters
Sharks and Crusaders fans mingle before their historic Super Rugby match kicked off at Twickenham.
Twickenham stall
A stall outside Twickenham selling Crusaders and Sharks paraphernalia before their historic Super Rugby match.
Twickenham fans
Fans at Twickenham don't forget what the Crusaders-Sharks match is all about.
Graham Henry and Steve Tew
All Blacks coach Graham Henry and NZRU chief executive Steve Tew are avid spectators at the Crusaders-Sharks Super Rugby match at Twickenham.
George Whitelock
Crusaders flanker George Whitelock holds off Sharks opposite number Keegan Daniel during the Super Rugby match at Twickenham. Matt Todd looms in support.
Zac Guildford
Zac Guildford finishes a brilliant Crusaders try against the Sharks.
Sean Maitland
Crusaders winger Sean Maitland scores the decisive try to seal victory over the Sharks at Twickenham.
Justin Marshall
Former All Blacks halfback Justin Marshall strolls to Twickenham to commentate on the Super Rugby match between his old side, the Crusaders, against the Sharks.
Crusaders v Bulls
Bulls' Werner Kruger holds on to a Crusaders player.
Crusaders v Bulls
Bulls' Dean Greyling brings down the Crusaders' Ben Franks.
Crusaders v Bulls
Sonny Bill Williams scores the first try of the match for the Crusaders.
Crusaders v Bulls
The Bulls' Victor Matfield battle Chris Jack in a lineout.
Crusaders v Chiefs
Crusaders' Richie McCaw is taken down by the Chiefs' Tim Nanai-Williams.
Crusaders v Chiefs
The Chiefs' Mike Delaney is tackled.
Crusaders v Chiefs
Richie McCaw tackles Brendon Leonard.
Crusaders v Chiefs
Chiefs' Liam Messam is hauled down.
Crusaders v Chiefs
The Crusaders' Sonny Bill Williams slips past Dwayne Sweeney's tackle.
Crusaders v Chiefs
Chiefs' Lelia Masanga getting closed down by Ben Franks and Brad Thorn.
Robbie Fruean of the Crusaders breaks through the tackle of Shaun Treeby of the Highlanders during the round 10 Super Rugby match in Nelson.
Robbie Fruean of the Crusaders breaks through the tackle of Shaun Treeby of the Highlanders during the round 10 Super Rugby match in Nelson.
Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith gets his pass away during the round 10 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith gets his pass away during the round 10 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Crusaders back Israel Dagg is tackled by James Paterson of the Highlanders during the round 10 Super Rugby match at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Crusaders back Israel Dagg is tackled by James Paterson of the Highlanders during the round 10 Super Rugby match at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Zac Guilford of the Crusaders is tackled by Aaron Smith of the Highlanders during the round 10 Super Rugby match at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Zac Guilford of the Crusaders is tackled by Aaron Smith of the Highlanders during the round 10 Super Rugby match at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Nasi Manu of the Highlanders runs with the ball during the round 10 Super Rugby match at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Nasi Manu of the Highlanders runs with the ball during the round 10 Super Rugby match at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Matt Todd of the Crusaders is tackled by Jarrad Hoeata of the Highlanders during the round 10 Super Rugby match at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Matt Todd of the Crusaders is tackled by Jarrad Hoeata of the Highlanders during the round 10 Super Rugby match at Trafalgar Park in Nelson.
Crusaders v Highlanders
The Highlanders and Crusaders pack down.
Crusaders v Highlanders
The Crusader Horsemen.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Israel Dagg tries to break the Highlanders defence.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders scores the first try of the game against the Highlanders.
Crusaders v Western Force
Zac Guildford of the Crusaders gets tackled by Pat Dellitt and Brett Sheehan of the Force.
Crusaders v Western Force
Sonny Bill Williams of the Crusaders makes a break against the Force.
Crusaders v Western Force
The Crusaders celebrate a try against the Force.
Crusaders v Western Force
Mat Berquist of the Crusaders looks to pass against the Force.
Crusaders v Western Force
Nathan Sharpe of the Force looks to break through Mat Berquist and Chris Jack of the Crusaders.
Crusaders defeat Stormers
The Crusaders start the celebrations after defeating the Stormers 20-14 at DHL Newlands.
Crusaders defeat Stormers
Sonny Bill Williams barks out the orders.
Crusaders defeat Stormers
Robbie Freuan gets on the move for the Crusaders.
Crusaders defeat Stormers
The Stormers' Jacque Fourie takes an unexpected trip.
Crusaders defeat Stormers
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder looks on as his charges record a memorable win in South Africa.
Crusaders defeat Stormers
Two-try hero for the Crusaders, Wyatt Crockett.
Crusaders defeat Stormers
Schalk Burger is hauled down by the Crusaders' defence.
Crusaders v Cheetahs
The Crusaders clear the ruck against the Cheetahs.
Crusaders v Cheetahs
Cheetahs celebrate their win over the Crusaders.
Crusaders v Cheetahs
Ryan Crotty of the Crusaders and Adriaan Strauss of the Cheetahs tangle.
Crusaders v Cheetahs
Ashley Johnson of the Cheetahs on the charge against the Crusaders.
Crusaders v Chiefs
Sitiveni Sivivatu is tackled the Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and Chiefs played at McLean Park, Napier.
Crusaders v Chiefs
Richie McCaw loses the ball in the tackle in the Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and Chiefs played at McLean Park, Napier.
Crusaders v Chiefs
Richie McCaw is tackled by Sam Cane in the Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and Chiefs played at McLean Park, Napier.
Crusaders v Chiefs
Richard Kahui is tackled in the Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and Chiefs played at McLean Park, Napier.
Crusaders v Chiefs
Sona Taumalolo is ankle tapped by Dan Carter in the Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and Chiefs played at McLean Park, Napier.
Crusaders v Chiefs
Robbie Fruen tackles Tim Nanai-Williams during the Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and Chiefs played at McLean Park, Napier.
Crusaders v Reds
Richie McCaw of the Crusaders reacts after the team's defeat by the Reds.
Crusaders v Reds
Brent Ward of the Crusaders tackles Luke Morahan of the Reds.
Crusaders v Reds
Will Genia of the Reds scores a try past Zac Guildford of the Crusaders.
Crusaders v Reds
Brent Ward of the Crusaders scores a try past Quade Cooper of the Reds.
Crusaders v Reds
Will Genia of the Reds runs at the tryline to score against the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium.
Crusaders v Blues
Dan Carter kicks a penalty against the Blues.
Crusaders v Blues
Kieran Read of the Crusaders is tackled by Peter Saili of the Blues.
Crusaders v Blues
Tom Marshall of the Crusaders is tackled by Jared Payne of the Blues.
Crusaders v Blues
Robbie Fruean of the Crusaders tries to get between Peter Saili and Jerome Kaino of the Blues.
Crusaders v Blues
Luke McAlister of the Blues and Robbie Fruean of the Crusaders clash for the ball.
Crusaders
Corey Flynn of the Crusaders at their game with the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium.
Crusaders
Robbie Fruean of the Crusaders at their game with the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium.
Crusaders
Kieran Reid of the Crusaders at their game witht eh Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium.
Crusaders v Sharks
Sonny Bill Williams celebrates his first half try against the Sharks with Andy Ellis.
Crusaders v Sharks
Kieran Read in action against the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
Sonny Bill Williams tries to offload around Stefan Terblanche of the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
Tom Marshall makes a break in the first half against the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
Sonny Bill Williams makes a break in the first half against the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
The Sharks flanker Keegan Daniel goes high to stop Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis.
Crusaders v Sharks
Kieran Read on the charge against the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
Sonny Bill Williams breaks the line against the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
Sonny Bill Williams scores a try against the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
Sonny Bill Williams is dragged down in a Sharks tackle.
Crusaders v Sharks
Dan Carter is tackled by Gerhard Mostert of the Sharks.
Crusaders v Sharks
Gerhart Mostert of the Sharks has his jersey rearranged.
Crusaders v Sharks
Matt Todd tackled by Patrick Lambie ofthe Sharks.

Richie McCaw has stepped into the breach to ensure the Crusaders have a flight to Wellington to play the Hurricanes.

With thousands of passengers stranded across the country after Air New Zealand cancelled flights this morning due to an ash cloud from Chile's volcano, the Crusaders were staring at the prospect of driving and ferrying to the capital.

However, All Blacks captain and aviation enthusiast McCaw, in his capacity as patron of the DC3 Southern Trust, has initiated a DC3 being made available to fly his Super Rugby team north.

Richie McCaw
TOP GUN: Richie McCaw's pilot connections have helped keep the Crusaders on track for their showdown with the Hurricanes.

No more than 28 Crusaders players and coaches will fill the historic plane tomorrow morning ahead of the crucial fixture on Saturday night. The slow flight will take an hour and 40 minutes.

The rest of team management are to drive, carrying the team's gear.

The plane, which made its first flight in 1944, was able to operate safely in the current conditions over New Zealand because it flew below 10,000 feet (3048 metres) and had a conventional propeller engine, rather than a jet engine like a commercial aircraft.

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McCaw is a qualified pilot and is legally allowed to fly the plane but DC3 Southern Trust flight operations manager Rodney Hall said he couldn't on this occasion as the plane would be carrying fare-paying passengers - his team-mates.

The Southern DC3 plane, which is based at the Ashburton Aviation Museum and is used sporadically for airshows and scenic flights, was operating today, carrying a small number of passengers between Christchurch and Wellington.

The Crusaders' involvement came about through a happy coincidence when McCaw and Hall crossed paths this morning.

Hall said he was walking his dog past the Crusaders' training ground in Christchurch just before the team were to have a meeting to discuss travel options.

"Richie and I both thought the same thing at the same time. It was impeccable timing really and it's just great to get these guys out of a hole," Hall said.

"I'm more than happy we can help them and I know Richie's excited to be able to do something like this for the team. They're our local team and he's our patron, the weather's perfect and it's a unique situation so it's all come together."

"Nothing ceases to amaze this year,'' Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said after today's final training.

"Captain Richie McCaw came through for us with his ties with the DC3 Trust. It (flight) may take a little longer but it's a better alternative then the bus and ferry. It's another good chapter in a very interesting season.''

Blackadder said the Crusaders, third on the Super 15 table and looking to book a home semifinal in Nelson, were concentrating solely on what they wanted from the game and not on the turmoil in the Hurricanes camp caused by Blackadder's former Crusaders assistant, Mark Hammett, axing All Blacks, Ma'a Nonu and Hurricanes captain Andrew Hore.

"I don't care about that to be honest. It's all about us making sure that we turn up ready to perform. I know they've got a lot going on in their (Hurricanes) camp but that's not our concern. We've got a win we want to get our hands on and we want to put on a good performance and get our season back on track.

"While we've been playing well and winning there have been some not very good performances where we haven't really met the targets and performance standards that we're used to setting. We need to be more clinical and accurate,'' Blackadder said.

"I think it is more of a mindset for the players, more about making better decisions when we're on attack. We're working hard then releasing a lot of pressure. We need to make sure we can hold onto the ball for longer periods and ask more questions of the defence.''

Blackadder said after reviewing the 23-16 win against the Blues last Saturday, he thought the Crusaders had dodged a bullet. "While we were good and did some things really well we weren't clinical and that was a hangover from the Reds game where we had our chances.''

Crusaders No 8 Kieran Read, who will captain the Crusaders in the absence of the injured McCaw, said the flight would be yet another unusual experience for the Crusaders in a year when they've been forced to play all their games outside Christchurch due to the February earthquake.

"There has been a few surprises this year and it is definitely better than a bus ride or a train and a ferry," he said.

"It will be a good story to tell in a few years time, especially if we can stay on task this week in what we want to achieve this weekend."

What shaped as a problematic weekend of travel for Super Rugby teams in New Zealand has been largely resolved.

The cancellation of flights in Australia and New Zealand led to SANZAR concerns about three other teams - namely the Highlanders and Reds - not being able to travel.

However the Highlanders, who face the Blues on Friday night, will travel on a charter flight to Auckland this afternoon. 

In Australia, the Reds departed for Auckland this morning en-route to Hamilton for their match against the Chiefs on Saturday.

"We are relieved at this stage to have resolved these issues," said SANZAR CEO Greg Peters. "Obviously until all teams are where they need to be for this weekend's games we will continue to monitor the situation".

"This has been the second major disruption to Super Rugby after the Christchurch quake earlier this year and it has again provided us with a big challenge as we were dealing with matters beyond our control."

- Stuff with NZPA