Kieran Read hails Richie McCaw
July 19, 2013
Kieran Read has inspired New Zealand and the Crusaders in Richie McCaw's absence © Getty Images
Crusaders captain Kieran Read has hailed Richie McCaw, saying the vast experience of the returning All Blacks legend will be "huge" in the Super Rugby qualifier against Queensland Reds at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.
The All Blacks captain has been named on the bench despite having played just one club match after a seven-month sabbatical, for Christchurch against University as Christchurch Park last Saturday, but Read, the Crusaders and New Zealand captain in McCaw's absence, does not fear his fellow back-rower will be rusty against the Reds.
"I think he's mentally ready and he's done a lot of homework," Read said of McCaw. "It's pretty tough coming in but he's one of those guys who can slip in and do the job. He's about the team. He puts the Crusaders first, and that's what we are about. I'm sure he'll give his all when he gets the chance."
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has made only one change to the starting team that defeated the Hurricanes 25-17 in Super Rugby round 20 last Friday, recalling Luke Romano to partner fellow All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock in the second-row after recovering from an ankle injury, meaning he has named the pack given a torrid time by the Reds in Christchurch 14 months ago when the teams last played each other. The Reds scored the only try in that match at AMI Stadium, won 15-11 by the Crusaders, but they were unlucky losers as they received some questionable calls from the match officials.
"You expect close games against top sides and I think we weren't up for that game as we should have been," Read said of that latest match against the Reds.
Read expects another titanic struggle against a team with several players battle-hardened by three tests against the British & Irish Lions and with enigmatic game-breakers such as Quade Cooper. "They've got some quality players and they're playing some pretty good footy," Read said of the Reds. "We trained really well this week and have done our homework, but having not played them [this season] there's a bit of the unknown."
Read said the 2011 Super Rugby final loss to the Reds had hardly been mentioned. "It's about this year and we certainly want to do better than that year, but it's about getting it right and that starts this week. We love playing [at home] and it's awesome to have that opportunity of playing finals footy here. It's finals time now and we're ready to go."
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
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton