All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has a suspected broken thumb, complicating a horror night for the Crusaders after they were trampled by the Blues in their Super Rugby clash tonight.
The Blues won impressively 35-24 at Auckland’s Eden Park, leaving the Crusaders without a point after the opening two rounds of the championship.
But the Crusaders could have long-term problems if their concerns around McCaw prove true.
He was taken off at halftime after uncharacteristically missing tackles in the Blues’ first two tries that launched Sir John Kirwan’s side on the road to a comeback win after being down 17-3.
“Richie may have fractured a thumb. He’ll have to go to hospital for checks,” a dejected Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder lamented.
McCaw missed the bulk of last year’s Super Rugby championship because of a sabbatical. He is central to the Crusaders’ hopes this year, especially with fellow aging star Dan Carter granted a sabbatical.
The Crusaders had Kieran Read playing his first game last night but the big No 8 couldn’t prevent the Blues from running riot with their bonus point win in front of a big home crowd.
Blackadder was hugely disappointed with the manner of this loss.
“I felt we were in control of the game and then two mistakes ... bang, bang and we were under pressure again.
“We took the foot off their throat and let them come back into it.”
The Crusaders face some serious soul-searching this week as they get set to host the Stormers on Saturday.
There will be no panic but Blackadder admitted individuals needed to look at themselves after some alarming errors under pressure.
Naturally the Blues were delighted.
They reported no injuries from the big win as they get ready to leave for South Africa this weekend for games against the Bulls and Lions.
Kirwan confirmed Ma’a Nonu and Jerome Kaino wouldn’t be part of the touring party.
Both needed to work on their conditioning and the management felt it would be better to have them fit and ready for action on the team’s return when they would host the Cheetahs.
Kirwan had high praise for young No 10 Simon Hickey who was making his first appearance for the Blues, stepping into the crucial position from the wider training squad.
“I thought Simon was outstanding,” Kirwan said, adding he felt fellow youngster Tevita Lit on the left wing and lock Patrick Tuipulotu had contributed hugely.
“There were really good games form those three young men,” Kirwan said.
Blues skipper Luke Braid was equally thrilled with Hickey’s performance.
“He was awesome tonight ... he likes pressure.”
- © Fairfax NZ News
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