Richie McCaw to play for Crusaders vs Canes

Last updated 15:57 12/02/2014
Richie McCaw
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RETURNING: Richie McCaw has not played a game since the All Blacks' last-gasp win over Ireland last November.

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All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will make his first appearance for the Crusaders this season, off the bench in the final pre-season game against the Hurricanes.

Coach Todd Blackadder will field an all-All Black back row in Levin on Friday with Matt Todd at openside flanker, George Whitelock on the blindside and Luke Whitelock at the back.

The Crusaders will start 11 past or present All Blacks with another five, including McCaw and senior All Black lock Sam Whitelock, on an 11-strong substitutes' bench.

Luke Whitelock and wing Johnny McNicholl will make their 2014 season debuts after sitting out last week's win over the Highlanders in Motueka.

The Crusaders have two other All Black locks with Luke Romano joining Dominic Bird in the starting second row. All Black props Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks will also start.

Israel Dagg is over an injury scare and will start at fullback, leaving Colin Slade to fill his favoured first five-eighth berth with Tom Taylor at second five-eighth.

Willi Heinz gets the nod at halfback after ex-All Black Andy Ellis started last week.

All Blacks midfielder Ryan Crotty will continue as captain in Kieran Read's absence.

Crusaders team: Israel Dagg, Johnny McNicholl, Ryan Crotty (c), Tom Taylor, Nafi Tuitavake, Colin Slade, Willi Heinz, Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Dominic Bird, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett: Reserves: Corey Flynn, Tim Perry, Nepo Laulala, Sam Whitelock, Richie McCaw, Jordan Taufua, Andy Ellis, Tyler Bleyendaal, Rob Thompson, Zac Guildford, Reynold Lee-Lo.

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