Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has confirmed that All Black captain Richie McCaw should be available for selection in this week’s Super Rugby match against the Brumbies but has not guaranteed his return.
McCaw broke his thumb playing against the Blues in February and has had surgery on the thumb by having a screw inserted to speed up the healing.
The All Black captain could join fellow All Blacks Kieran Read (concussion) and Luke Romano (calf) in making their return this week in Christchurch.
While McCaw might be ready to start playing again his return is not guaranteed as he faces a selection battle with Matt Todd for the Crusaders No 7 jersey.
Todd has stood in for McCaw since he was injured and his form could force the All Black captain to blind side flanker or he could be used as an impact player off the bench.
“It’s something we will certainly consider,” Blackadder told Fairfax when asked about McCaw possibly playing at blind side flanker.
“With Matt Todd playing so well, that’s a possibility. It’s going to be about making sure we have got the right balance.”
McCaw said early in the season that he wants to start at No.7 but he only lasted for one and a half matches before being injured.
In the last eight weeks Todd has done all he can to nail down the Crusaders No.7 jersey and force Blackadder’s hand.
The Crusaders made a slow start to the Super Rugby season – as they always do – but twenty-six-year-old Todd’s ability to put pressure on opposition ruck ball, without giving away penalties, has been crucial to their revival.
“I think Matt Todd is probably more of a genuine No 7,” Blackadder acknowledged.
“Richie is more of an option (at blind side flanker) and is a guy who can probably play that other type of role – a bit like Michael Jones when he converted to No 6.
“It just depends on who you have got fit and available.”
If Blackadder decides to use McCaw as a replacement he could cover all three of the Crusaders loose forward positions.
Centre Kieron Fonotia missed the match against the Chiefs in Hamilton with a hamstring strain but he should be fit and considered for selection this week.
Captain Kieran Read is a guaranteed starter at No.8 if the medics feel that he has fully recovered from his head knock.