Richie McCaw wants to lead for a full match

MATT MARKHAM
Last updated 05:00 10/05/2012

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Richie McCaw's plans to play his first 80 minutes of rugby this weekend marks a major milestone in his comeback from a foot injury.

McCaw was named in the Crusaders' starting lineup to take on the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday, his first run-on role since the Rugby World Cup final.

He has also been handed the captaincy role, with Kieran Read earning some time to relax on the bench.

McCaw made a 35-minute cameo off the bench in the Crusaders' victory over the Reds on Sunday night – taking over from Matt Todd soon after halftime.

"I was pretty stiff on Monday," he said. "But I'm excited about this week, the last couple of weeks have been good and I am getting a feel back for the game."

McCaw's comeback has been well managed but he is looking to ramp things up as he gets back into the full rigours of Super Rugby.

"I think I have been able to feel my way a bit the last few weeks.

"But I've got to make sure I get stuck in this week, especially because I am leading the side.

"You have to make sure you've got a pretty good understanding of what you're doing and do a good job of it as well."

In the absence of Read, McCaw will pack down beside Luke Whitelock who gets his first run in the No8 jersey this year.

Also stepping in for this week's game is Willi Heinz who takes control behind the forward pack over Andy Ellis, meaning the Crusaders have a new-look lineup from jerseys seven through to nine.

"It's a good chance to give Reado a bit of a break, so the timing has worked out well," McCaw said.

"Nothing really changes for the side though."

Saturday will be the first time the Crusaders and the Rebels have played a competition match.

Placed 12th on the overall standings, McCaw expects the Rebels to throw everything they have at his side.

"We have had a good look at them this week and although their results haven't been quite as good as what they would have liked, if they get some go forward they certainly can play footy."

Saturday's match will mark a special occasion for wing Sean Maitland who notches up his 50th match for the Crusaders.

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