McCaw to lead Crusaders into semi-final battle
June 30, 2011
McCaw's season has been blighted by injury © Getty Images
Talismanic flanker Richie McCaw has been named to lead the Crusaders into their Super Rugby semi-final showdown against the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday.
McCaw has been sidelined by a foot injury since the Crusaders' narrow loss to the Reds in Brisbane on May 29 but he has been given the all-clear to start the match ahead of Matt Todd this weekend. And in a further boost to the seven-time champions, No.8 Kieran Read has been cleared for the game after rolling his ankle in his side's 36-8 victory over the Sharks in their semi-final qualifier in Nelson last weekend.
In related news, Crusaders assistant coach Daryl Gibson has tipped fly-half Dan Carter to answer his critics with a return to top form at Newlands. "I think he's probably been a little bit quiet in recent times," Gibson said of his star No 10, capped 79 times for the All Blacks. "He's one of those players who, because he does everything so well, sometimes it is not noticed just how good he is.
"If you look at a number of other first-fives who are playing with a lot more flair, they also make a lot more mistakes. We tend to forget that Dan very rarely makes mistakes."
Gibson said Carter's influence was such that he ensured the Crusaders stuck to the team's gameplan and executed what they needed. "He is definitely very keen to go all the way with this team. He's been doing a fantastic job leading this side along with Richie (McCaw) and Kieran (Read). The one area which has probably really grown this year is his leadership ability."
Gibson said another area of his game that Carter might like to express himself more was in taking the ball to the line and asking questions of the opposition defence. He has adopted more of a link man role this season, feeding linebreakers Sonny Bill Williams and Robbie Fruean outside him.
"He is a very good running five-eighth but at times I guess if you have other guys such as Robbie Fruean and Sonny and Zac Guildford around you, you can tend to take on less yourself and let them have the ball," Gibson said. "But it is certainly an area of strength for Dan and it's something I'd like him to do a little more."
Crusaders: Tom Marshall, Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean, Sonny Bill Williams, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, George Whitelock, Richie McCaw (capt), Kieran Read
Replacements: Quentin MacDonald, Ben Franks, Luke Romano, Matt Todd, Kahn Foutali'i, Matt Berquist, Ryan Crotty.
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