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McCaw's return sparks outbreak of nerves


Richard Knowler

Mind games ... Richie McCaw is certain to cause headaches.

Mind games ... Richie McCaw is certain to cause headaches.

RICHIE McCAW is back - and the mind games have begun.

Having been named on the bench for Sunday's match against the Waratahs in Sydney, McCaw is likely to have created some uncertainty, and maybe even a few pangs of paranoia, among teammates Matt Todd and George Whitelock.

While Crusaders fans were buoyed by McCaw's long-awaited return from a foot injury, breakaways Todd and Whitelock might not be celebrating.

Three breakaways cannot fill two starting spots, which means either Todd or Whitelock could have their neck on the chopping block before next weekend's match against the Queensland Reds at AMI Stadium.

This scenario adds more pressure to perform against the Waratahs, and Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder should have some empathy; his own playing career was cut short by the arrival of a young Chris Jack in the early 2000s. He now hopes the reactions of Todd and Whitelock can create some welcome mayhem around the selection table.

''They start looking over their shoulder - Richie is coming back, where does that leave me? We see a few insecurities [but] this has always been about team, it hasn't always been about one person,'' Blackadder emphasised. ''It is important the guys keep fighting and competing for a place because everyone at times has to earn the right.''

Blackadder was light on details of which breakaway position McCaw would play or for how long. It is likely he will enter his first match in six months at the 50-minute mark but he could yet operate in a left-right tandem with Todd.

''I am conscious too that George has got a little niggle at the moment, which I would like to look after, and Matt Todd has been on fire. I want to keep them all hot and involved.''

McCaw is expected to command a starting spot, and probably the captaincy, when the Crusaders meet the Reds. No. 8 Kieran Read could be rested, allowing either McCaw or Whitelock to operate from No. 8, leaving Todd in the No. 7 jersey.

Blackadder has several other options. He could either run McCaw and Todd as a left-right combination or retain Whitelock on the blindside.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made it clear he views McCaw as a No. 7 and has no intention of moving the 31-year-old.


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 Stats
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 22:00Leicester City Stadium
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
SAF 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
NZL 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs ARG 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 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 3 0 3 0 -139 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 3 0 3 0 -96 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 3 0 3 0 -59 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Romania 3 1 2 0 -59 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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