No plans to move McCaw to No.8
July 27, 2011
Richie McCaw is set to start at openside flanker against the Springboks © Getty Images
All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen has ruled out moving captain Richie McCaw to No. 8 on a permanent basis, despite him filling that position during the clash against Fiji last week.
There had been speculation that openside flanker McCaw may be shifted to the back of the scrum to start the test against South Africa in Wellington on Saturday, in the absence of Kieran Read, but Hansen quickly quashed those rumours.
"There's no big plan to turn Richie McCaw into a No. 8, other than when we need him to go there as a back-up player," he said.
"He's the best No. 7 in the world so I'm hoping his long-term future is at No. 7.
"We need to have flexibility in the loose forwards and at the moment the flexibility of him being able to go to eight allows us to give 'Reado' the time out of the environment that he needs - so I wouldn't read too much into it.
"It is handy to be able to have someone who can slot back in there and do the basic core roles well. It gives you versatility in who you can pick as your fourth loose forward," he said.
Read was rested for the Fiji Test after taking on a heavy workload for Super Rugby side the Crusaders in their run to the final. He will also sit out Saturday's Test, alongside lock Brad Thorn, prop Owen Franks and hooker Keven Mealamu.
Four extra players in the squad as injury cover allowed the coaches to rest those they felt were a little overcooked after a physically and emotionally taxing Super Rugby campaign. But they have now been given a welcome headache after some of those omitted from the original 30-man Tri-Nations squad put in eye-catching performances against Fiji.
"The harder selection is the better it is for the team...it'll make things tougher but we just have to get things right," Hansen said.
The rest and recuperation plan had achieved its desired results, with Hansen noticing more energy from the players who were released from the squad for the opening test of a busy international season.
"They're starting to freshen up and getting itchy about wanting to play which is great, which is a good sign. You can just see it in their demeanour when they came back in this week that there was a bounce in their step again and they're starting to enjoy life as opposed to rugby being a bit of a chore.
"For us, that's the ultimate, that's what we want. Things will come back to normal next week and we'll have a full squad to pick from," he said.
Among those getting close to figuring in the selection process are prop Tony Woodcock and utility back Isaia Toeava, both scheduled to play provincial rugby next week. The All Blacks and Springboks will name their Test sides for the Tri-Nations match on Thursday.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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