Richie McCaw joins the Crusade

2009-04-15 00:00

Richie McCaw’s timing is perfect as he returns to the Crusaders side to meet the Sharks in the Super 14 game at King’s Park on Saturday evening.

McCaw, who has missed four games with a medial ligament strain, will take over the captaincy of the side. He will take over on the side of the scrum from George Whitelock who is on his way home after damaging a knee in training in Durban this week.

“It’s really unfortunate for George. He has been playing really well for us and now he has to fly home without playing a game in South Africa. We all feel for him,” coach Todd Blackadder said.

Blackadder said All Black flank McCaw is looking impressive.

“He seems to be in really good physical shape. He’s looking good to go,” Blackadder said.

Blackadder said that the Cheetahs had played exceptionally well in beating the Sharks at the weekend.

“They played really well. It just shows you that anyone can beat anyone in this competition. We know the Sharks are at home and will bring their A game against us, but the Cheetahs showed the way. They hit the Sharks’ midfield at pace and that’s something we might also look to implement.”

A further boost for the Crusaders is the return of All Black Andy Ellis who has been sidelined in recent weeks with a rib injury, but he is bracketed with Kahn Fotuali’I at scrumhalf. Outside back Casey Laulala’s season is over after breaking his arm against the Bulls and Tim Batemen will start in his place. Ryan Crotty has been promoted off the bench and will play at centre.

The Sharks will name their side today after a number of players have undergone fitness checks.

Head coach John Plumtree said the return of McCaw would boost the New Zealanders.

“Richie is so good and he will be involved 90% of the time. We need to look after him, but they have Kieran Read, Brad Thorn and Thomas Waldrom, so they have plenty of tough guys upfront.

“We were half a metre behind the pace as a pack against the Cheetahs and they isolated us and punished us. We can’t allow that to happen against the Crusaders,” said Plumtree.

Kick-off is 5.05 pm on Saturday and South African Mark Lawrence will handle the game.

Crusaders team: Leon MacDonald; Jared Payne, Tim Bateman, Ryan Crotty, Colin Slade; Stephen Brett, Andy Ellis/Kahn Fotuali’i; Thomas Waldrom, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read, Isaac Ross, Brad Thorn, Bronson Murray, Jason Macdonald, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Daniel Perrin, Owen Franks, Ross Filipo, Michael Paterson, Kahn Fotuali’i/Tyson Keats, Adam Whitelock, Kade Poki.

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