McCaw granted break
January 22, 2011
Richie McCaw will return to Super Rugby action against the Waratahs in early March © Getty Images
New Zealand and Crusaders skipper Richie McCaw will make a belated start to the Super Rugby season after he was granted an extra two-week break.
The openside will miss the opening two away fixtures of the new season against the Blues and the Hurricanes and is the only All Black to be rested in the first two rounds as New Zealand coach Graham Henry and Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder look to manage the player's workload during a World Cup year.
In McCaw's absence Brad Thorn is set to skipper the Crusaders when they start their campaign against the Blues at Eden Park on February 19.
The 2010 IRB world player of the year was rested for the opening two rounds of last season's Super 14 competition and went on to enjoy a successful season for New Zealand, which included another Tri-Nations title and a Grand Slam winning end of season tour to Britain and Ireland.
The 30-year-old will report back for training along with the rest of the All Blacks on January 31 but he will not make his first appearance until the Crusaders take on the Waratahs at AMI Stadium on March 4.
"He was the Crusader of the year last year ... It was great what he gave the team, so that will be reciprocated and he gets that extra two weeks off," Blackadder said. "He is probably in the most demanding role of anyone in rugby, isn't he."
Blackadder is set to give the majority of his All Black contingent a preseason run out against the Rebels in Melbourne on February 5 before their final build-up game against the Highlanders in Oamaru on February 11.
Crusaders prop Ben Franks, who missed the All Blacks' end of season tour, is back in training but is not expected to be fit for the hit-out with the Rebels.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'