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Super Rugby Qualifier - Crusaders v Reds
Richie McCaw on Crusaders bench
ESPN Staff
July 18, 2013
Christchurch's Richie McCaw runs the ball, Christchurch v University, Christchurch club rugby, Christchurch Park, Christchurch, July 13, 2013
Richie McCaw did enough for Christchurch last week to prove his fitness for Super Rugby © Getty Images
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Richie McCaw has been named to face Queensland Reds in the Super Rugby qualifier at AMI Stadium, the All Blacks legend returning from a six-month sabbatical on the Crusaders bench in Christchurch on Saturday after playing 80 minutes in a Christchurch club rugby fixture. McCaw admitted to feeling tired during club hit-out last weekend, his first game since the All Blacks' loss to England at Twickenham in early December, and his selection leaves no specialist lock on the reserves bench - with loose forward Luke Whitelock to provide cover.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder, meanwhile, made one change to the starting side that defeated the Hurricanes 25-17 in Super Rugby round 20, Luke Romano returning from an ankle injury to reform his locking partnership with Sam Whitelock. Romano's return means the Crusaders field the starting team that humbled the defending champion Chiefs 43-15 two weeks ago. Matt Todd will play his 50th Super Rugby match for the Crusaders, who will field eight All Blacks in their starting pack.

Inside centre Tom Taylor has recovered from a head knock that forced him off against the Hurricanes, meaning there is no need to shift star five-eighth Dan Carter out one spot to cover his absence. Utility back Adam Whitelock has replaced Telusa Veainu in the squad, meaning there are four Whitelock brothers in the Crusaders' 22 - starting forwards Sam and George, and reserves Luke and Adam.

The sides have played each other 19 times in Super Rugby, with the seven-time champion Crusaders winning 13 matches. The Reds, the 2011 champions, have not defeated the Crusaders in New Zealand since 1999.

Crusaders: Israel Dagg; Tom Marshall, Ryan Crotty, Tom Taylor, Zac Guildford; Dan Carter, Andy Ellis; Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, George Whitelock; Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Luke Whitelock, Richie McCaw, Willi Heinz, Tyler Bleyendaal, Adam Whitelock.


Follow live text commentary of the Super Rugby qualifier between the Crusaders and the Reds on Saturday, July 20, from 7pm (NZT), 5pm (EST), 7am (GMT)

Greg Growden and Russell Barwick preview the Super Rugby finals

Richie McCaw returned to a hero's welcome at Christchurch Park © Getty Images
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