McCaw returns for Crusaders

Richie McCaw (Getty Images)
Richie McCaw (Getty Images)
Wellington - New Zealand captain Richie McCaw will make an earlier than expected return to top rugby after being named on the Crusaders' bench for Saturday's Super Rugby quarterfinal against the Reds.

McCaw has not played a professional match since the All Blacks were beaten by England at Twickenham in December.

He played in an amateur club match last weekend and had been expected to return to top rugby from an eight-month sabbatical in New Zealand's Rugby Championships test against Australia on August 17.

VIDEO: Richie McCaw's back!

McCaw had ruled out playing in this season's Super Rugby competition but has been hurried back because the Christchurch-based Crusaders are trying to end a five-year title drought.

Coach Todd Blackadder has made one change to his starting 15, with lock Luke Romano cleared to return in place of Tom Donnelly who drops out of the squad.

Luke Whitelock will cover lock from the bench.

Teams:

Crusaders:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett

Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Luke Whitelock, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Adam Whitelock.

Reds:

TBA
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