Super 14 - Game of the Week
McCaw out to blindside Blues
March 4, 2010
The Crusaders' Richie McCaw looks to force an opening in the Reds' defence, Crusaders v Reds, Super 14, AMI stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, May 8, 2009
Richie McCaw starts for the Crusaders © Getty Images

All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw will make his first Super 14 start of the season for the Crusaders as they take on the Blues in Christchurch on Saturday, but the world-renowned openside will shift across to the No.6 jersey.

Following an injury to No.8 Thomas Waldrom coach Todd Blackadder has reshuffled his back-row options. George Whitelock retains the openside berth with Kieran Read shifting from blindside to No.8. Blackadder expects Whitelock and McCaw to rotate in the openside role and has high hopes for their effectiveness but McCaw is focused on his task as a blindside.

"It was nice last week to get a bit of rust out, but it's different when you are starting and I'm looking forward to it as I'm sick of doing all the training for no rewards," McCaw said. "Reado [Read] did extremely well playing tests at No.8 and he'll be fine there. I've got to make sure that I slot in and the three of us work together and not try to do each other's role. We want to be effective across the park and not just in one area."

The two sides have always enjoyed a strong Super Rugby rivalry and have shared 10 titles between them down the years. The Crusaders bounced back from a humbling defeat to the Reds two weeks ago with a comfortable victory over the Sharks last weekend, while the Blues picked up their second win of the season against the Reds in torrential conditions in round three.

Crusaders pivot Dan Carter will be up against a familiar face in former team-mate Stephen Brett, who lines up at No.10 for the Blues. Brett joined the Auckland franchise in the draft to boost his game-time but has endured a mixed start to the season. There will also be an interesting duel at scrum-half, where fringe All Black competitors Andy Ellis and Alby Mathewson face off.

Tony Woodcock boosts the visitors by returning at loose-head, where he will get to grips with All Black team-mate Owen Franks, who replaces his injured brother Ben. Keven Mealamu leads the Blues from hooker while John Afoa completes their All Black front-row. On the home side's bench there are returns for All Blacks Corey Flynn and Isaac Ross, with hooker Flynn set to make his first appearance of the season.

Crusaders: Jared Payne; Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford; Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis; Wyatt Crockett, Ti'i Paulo, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Richie McCaw (capt), George Whitelock, Kieran Read

Replacements: Corey Flynn, Peter Borlase, Isaac Ross, Jonathon Poff, Kahn Fotuali'i, Adam Whitelock, Colin Slade

Blues: Paul Williams; Joe Rokocoko, Rene Ranger, Benson Stanley, Rudi Wulf; Stephen Brett, Alby Mathewson; Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu (capt), John Afoa, Kurtis Haiu, Anthony Boric, Jerome Kaino, Serge Lilo, Viliami Ma'afu

Replacements: Tom McCartney, Charlie Faumuina, Filo Paulo, Tom Chamberlain, Chris Smylie, Daniel Kirkpatrick, George Pisi


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