McCaw to sit out Super 14 opening rounds
November 20, 2009
Richie McCaw will sit out the opening rounds of the Super 14 © Getty Images
Crusaders openside McCaw will take an extended break following the conclusion of New Zealand's northern hemisphere tour, which culminates with a fixture against the Barbarians at Twickenham on December 5.
McCaw will rejoin the Crusaders camp at the start of the Super 14 on February 13, but will not be considered for selection until his side tackle the Blues on March 6. He has a sabbatical option in his New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) contract, which runs until the 2011 World Cup, but has chosen not to engage it.
His decision has been backed by Crusaders boss Todd Blackadder, who admitted that this would likely be the player's last chance for a break before the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Muliaina announced earlier this year that he would sit out the Chiefs' first three Super 14 fixtures.
"Richie's actually got a sabbatical clause in his contract, so he's got the right to take the whole Super 14 off," Blackadder told The New Zealand Herald. "To his credit he doesn't want to do that. He wants to play.
"He's not skiving off anywhere, he will be with us for the duration of the campaign, he will train alongside the team, he just will not be available to play until March."
There is no suggestion that McCaw is being protected from playing as many leading All Blacks were ahead of their disastrous 2007 World Cup campaign or that he would be taking up an option with a European club in the same manner as fly-half Dan Carter did with Perpignan last season.
McCaw's absence will also open the door to Canterbury skipper George Whitelock, who will be keen to add to his Super 14 appearances at No.7 and force his way back in to the All Black reckoning.