McCaw back starting and leading Crusaders

Dagg, Read and Ellis all benched

Last updated 10:10 09/05/2012
Richie McCaw
Photosport
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Richie McCaw will wear the skipper's armband for the Crusaders against the Rebels this weekend.

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Richie McCaw will make his first run-on start since the World Cup final when the Crusaders meet the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday night.

McCaw, who has been utilised off the bench by coach Todd Blackadder in the previous two rounds against the Reds and Waratahs, will replace Matt Todd in the No 7 jersey.

The All Blacks opensider will also captain the side, with stand-in skipper and No 8 Kieran Read, who has been replaced by rookie Luke Whitelock, relegated to the reserves.

Read's demotion is no surprise; Blackadder had earlier signalled he would use the Rebels match to rest him following a heavy workload in their opening 10 matches.

Blackadder has made a total of five changes to the starting line-up of the side that beat the Reds 15-11 in Christchurch last Sunday afternoon.

Wyatt Crockett will also start at loosehead prop, Willi Heinz makes his first start of the year at halfback and Tom Marshall has been returned to fullback to give All Black Israel Dagg a break.

Crusaders: Tom Marshall, Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean, Dan Carter, Zac Guildford, Tom Taylor, Willi Heinz, Luke Whitelock, Richie McCaw (capt), George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Ben Franks, Tom Donnelly, Kieran Read, Andy Ellis, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg

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