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McCaw understudy Todd nearing All Blacks
February 19, 2013
Crusaders flanker Matt Todd, Crusaders v The Sharks, Super Rugby, Twickenham, London, England, March 27, 2011
Matt Todd has missed only two of the Crusaders' 36 games since his debut against the Blues in 2011. © Getty Images
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Richie McCaw's Super Rugby sabbatical has allowed his Crusaders understudy Matt Todd to further press his claims for All Blacks selection later this year. Todd was considered a chance to make the All Blacks' northern hemisphere tour last year, but Chiefs flanker Sam Cane was preferred in the pecking order of openside flankers.

Todd, who has missed only two of the Crusaders' 36 games since his debut against the Blues in 2011, covets the chance of wearing an All Blacks jersey but he is not looking beyond the Super competition which starts for the Crusaders in week three, against the Blues at Eden Park on March 1.

"My focus is on the Super campaign and doing my part for the team. It is no secret that we haven't won it for four years now," Todd said at Crusaders training on Tuesday. "We've got a good team and there is a good feel in the camp. I'll worry about the other stuff [All Blacks selection] when it comes later on. If you play well now higher honours take care of themselves."

Todd said the ITM Cup competition had shown there were plenty of talented players wearing the No.7 jersey.

"That's good for New Zealand rugby. It means you are tested every week and those challenges keep you on your toes," Todd said.

The Crusaders have the bye this week and will be the last of the 15 Super Rugby franchises to start their campaign, but Todd doesn't believe they will be disadvantaged.

"It's not all bad having the first-round bye. It has given us a little bit of extra time especially with the ABs coming back. We had a good camp the first week they were back and didn't have to rush the rugby stuff," Todd added. "But when you've been in pre-season for seven to eight weeks you want to get out on the paddock and get into it for real."

The Crusaders leaked 13 tries in their three pre-season matches, which resulted in losses to the Hurricanes and the Highlanders and a 16-14 win against the Waratahs in Sydney last Thursday.

"Our defence in the first two games wasn't too good," Todd conceded. "Against the Waratahs it was a lot better and we had to defend for long periods. It definitely is an area we'll focus on and work hard on leading into our first game."

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