McCaw: Crusaders play waiting game

Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:20
Large kieran read   richie mccaw

The Crusaders are optimistic about having All Black captain Richie McCaw available for their Super Rugby semifinal showdown with the Sharks.

The Crusaders are optimistic about having All Black captain Richie McCaw available for their Super Rugby semifinal showdown with the Sharks.

However, they will play a waiting game before making a final call on the veteran loose forward's availability for Saturday's Christchurch clash.

McCaw, who was full of energy at the Crusaders training on Monday, has not played since fracturing a rib while captaining the All Blacks against England last month.

Tabai Matson, the Crusaders' assistant coach, told a media briefing at training McCaw needed to emerge unscathed from training over the next two days to confirm his place in the side.

"He missed out on one of the key training sessions last week," Matson said at the side of the pitch, while the players were being taken through their paces in the build-up to the big day.

"We had an internal trial last Friday," he said, adding: "So how he gets through [training] will determine whether he'll be fully available for selection - which we'll be going through tonight [Monday night]."

Asked what the potential issue is that could exclude him from selection, Matson said it is the same issue as the last two league matches.

"We are going into a semifinal and we have learned in the past that it is fine to be available to play, but we need people who are ready to go and be 100 miles an hour - not kind of building into the game and not building [carrying] an injury.

"It will really be determined by how he feels over the next 24 to 48 hours."

There is also the question of whether McCaw will play openside or blindside - given the fine form Matt Todd has displayed in the All Black captain's absence.

Todd might remain at openside, with McCaw - if he passes his fitness test - set to start on the blindside and Jordan Taufua to play off the replacement bench.

The assistant said the 'body count' at this stage of the season is "really good".

"It is a massive credit to the medical people to only have a couple of people not available at this stage of the season, given the attrition this competition is. To have 95 percent of the team available is really great.''

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