Super Rugby - Crusaders
Richie McCaw returns to rugby
July 9, 2013
Will Richie McCaw appear for the Crusaders in the play-offs? © PA Photos
Richie McCaw's much anticipated return to rugby after a sabbatical will be on Saturday when he appears for his Christchurch club in a metro division one match against University at Christchurch Park.
McCaw's been on extended leave since captaining the All Blacks against England at Twickenham on December 1, but he recently returned to the Crusaders camp and took a full part in training this week as the seven-time Super Rugby champions prepare for their clash with the Hurricanes at AMI Stadium on Friday night.
Former Canterbury representative, Matt Mustchin, now the Christchurch club's senior coach, confirmed on Tuesday that McCaw's name would be on the team sheet for Saturday, but Crusaders assistant coach Dave Hewett gave no indication whether the star open-side flanker would be seen on the Super stage this season.
"That's a choice for him," Hewett said. "He's got a plan around what he wants to do so if he decides he wants to have time with us we would be fully supportive.
Hewett believes McCaw is itching to return. "He's ready to play again because he's becoming quite annoying at training. He's champing at the bit that's for sure. There are a limited number of games to go but he's a quality player. Whether he comes in or not won't make a difference to us because we've got quality guys in the background. But he is a class act and I'm sure he'll make an impact if he gets time with us."
The Crusaders' attention is centred on beating the Hurricanes - and they have lost their past two encounters by a point - and earning home advantage for the first round of play-offs. The Crusaders set the bar high in their 43-15 hammering of the New Zealand conference leaders, the Chiefs, in Christchurch last Friday and Hewett does not want it to be lowered against the Hurricanes.
"The key for us is to make sure we can achieve it again and make sure we replicate the performance against the Chiefs because that not only gives confidence to the team but shows we mean business."
Hewett believes the Hurricanes will bring a positive approach similar to that against the Highlanders where they scored five tries and 44 points in their 44-49 loss.
"They've got some attacking weapons. They'll throw caution to the wind and just play rugby and that's when they're at their most dangerous."