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Brumbies wary of Super Rugby's 'absolute warrior' Richie McCaw

He's back: Richie McCaw speaks to the media ahead of his comeback match for the Canterbury Crusaders.

He's back: Richie McCaw speaks to the media ahead of his comeback match for the Canterbury Crusaders.

He is described as Super Rugby's ultimate warrior and has never lost to the ACT Brumbies  in New Zealand. But the Brumbies believe their fierce attack at the breakdown can combat All Blacks great Richie McCaw as he prepares for his comeback game in Christchurch on Saturday.

World Cups, Super Rugby titles and more than a decade as one of the world's best players - McCaw will bolster the seven-time champions Crusaders as they aim to continue the Brumbies' 14-year hoodoo in New Zealand.

The champion flanker will be playing just his third game of the season after breaking his thumb in the second round.

McCaw holds an impressive record against the Brumbies, having never lost against the ACT in New Zealand.

McCaw holds an impressive record against the Brumbies, having never lost against the ACT in New Zealand.

But Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher warned his players to expect the New Zealand skipper to be back to his brilliant best in the crucial rivalry contest.

"He's the ultimate competitor, he's an absolute warrior. You never get a cheap possession and you never get a cheap try [when McCaw's there]," Fisher said. "He just never gives in, he's hard around the breakdown and competes for everything. The rest of the Crusaders side draws encouragement from that. He's just a real warrior."

For almost a decade McCaw and Brumbies great George Smith went head to head as the two best openside flankers in world rugby. But while Smith retired from Australian rugby in 2010, McCaw has powered on to establish himself as a legend of the game.

Perhaps the only weakness in his game is his lack of game time this year. But Fisher said it would be foolish to take him lightly. "He won't be missing out. He's an inspiration and, like all good leaders, he inspires by action. He's the heart and soul of the Crusaders team."

The Brumbies are regarded as one of the most ferocious breakdown teams in the competition, despite not boasting a specialist openside flanker as injured superstar David Pocock is out for the rest of the season.

The Crusaders will launch an assault at the ruck with McCaw to team up with his understudy Matt Todd.

The Brumbies have not beaten the Crusaders in New Zealand since a team of superstars toppled the Canterbury side in 2000.

That was the year before McCaw made his Super Rugby debut, and the World Cup-winning skipper will be intent on continuing his 14-year run against the Brumbies.

McCaw took a sabbatical from Super Rugby last year but returned to lead New Zealand to triumph in the Rugby Championships.

His game time has been minimal. But Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen said that should serve as a warning as the team braces for a rejuvenated veteran to run onto the field.

"You just know he's world-class, even when he's not near his best," Mowen said. "In a way it's easy to prepare for him because you know that all of his games are brilliant. They're talking about him as possibly the best All Blacks captain ever. That sort of player boosts any team."

Only five Brumbies players have beaten the Crusaders - Mowen, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Christian Lealiifano and Matt Toomua.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is the only member of the squad to win a game in New Zealand against Super Rugby's most dominant team.

It is the first time the Brumbies have played the Crusaders in New Zealand since 2011. Since then they have won in Pretoria, Durban, Wellington, Dunedin, Auckland and Johannesburg. Now, they are desperate to add the Crusaders' scalp to their list of achievements.

"We put it out there as a challenge to the group. It's not just the record that we haven't won since 2000, more so it's the way we've been comprehensively beaten in the past three games over there," Larkham said.

"It's a challenging place to be at; they play a more confident brand of rugby when they're at home. It's a true heartland of rugby in New Zealand ... it's an amazing experience and the guys will know all about it on Saturday."

The Crusaders have lost just three of 18 games at their new AMI Stadium home.

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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