McCaw at training but unlikely to face Chiefs

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 14:50 01/07/2013
Chiefs vs Crusaders
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Lelia Masaga has a cut at the Crusaders defence.
Richie McCaw
JOSEPH JOHNSON/Fiarfax NZ
Richie McCaw trains with the Crusaders at Rugby Park in Christchurch.

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Richie McCaw ran with his Crusaders team-mates at training today but there is no chance of him joining them for their crucial match against the Chiefs at AMI Stadium on Friday night.

Last week Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder said McCaw may finally start playing next weekend - either for his Christchurch club or for the Crusaders final Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes.

Assistant coach Tabai Matson, when asked if the Chiefs match was too early for All Blacks captain McCaw to make his comeback from his six-month sabbatical, intimated an early return was unlikely.

''I think so. He just joined us to do his own fitness but it's always more fun when you are with mates,'' Matson said today.

Last week McCaw trained independently from the squad.

Matson reiterated the flanker will be given space to make his own decision in regards to his return.

''It's really up to him. Whether it be a club game, or the high-pressure of a Super Rugby match, really is something to be discussed over the coming days.''

The Crusaders are expected to name their strongest lineup for their penultimate match.

A win will secure a place in the play-offs.

The Chiefs need just one more competition point to win the New Zealand conference.

Matson was also grateful to have a fit backline despite Ma'a Nonu launching a late tackle on Dan Carter and tipping Tom Marshall in a spear tackle that earned him a red card.

Nonu also got an off-field yellow card for his late hit on Carter.

''I can't comment about someone else's mental state and probably in one incident he clearly had a brain fart and he's paid the consequences,'' Matson said.

''What he did to 'Tojo' [Marshall] - you can get seriously injured doing that and that's why they have a zero tolerance.''

Nonu has received a three-week suspension. His season with the Highlanders is over.

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- Fairfax Media

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