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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.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all
 

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