McCaw eyes Super Rugby revenge vs Bulls
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All Blacks and Crusaders captain Richie McCaw rarely finds himself on a losing side, but his last three appearances against the Bulls in the Super Rugby play-offs have all ended in defeat.
But all those losses, in 2007, 2009 and 2010, were on South African soil and McCaw is hoping home-ground advantage will help ensure the Crusaders come out on the right side of the ledger on Saturday night in Christchurch.
“I probably owe them one. We’ve had some tough old battles over the years, but this is a new year,” said McCaw after the Crusaders’ final practice on Thursday.
McCaw, who will play at No.8 after fellow All Black Kieran Read was ruled out with a rib injury, said the home advantage meant nothing if the Crusaders dropped their standards.
“You still have to do the job right and you can’t go out thinking that it is going to be easier.”
He anticipated the Bulls might find the going tough as the match wore on and the travel took its toll.
Ominously for the Bulls, they have lost their past seven visits to Christchurch.
But both McCaw and coach Todd Blackadder said the hosts need to keep their discipline, wary that ace Bulls goalkicker Morne Steyn will punish any indiscretions.
“The experience we’ve had over the last few years is that he keeps things ticking along just through our ill discipline. Anywhere in your own half and it is fairly much three points guaranteed,” McCaw said.
McCaw said the Bulls would play an uncomplicated brand of rugby suited to the knockout phase.
“They’re not real subtle how they approach it – they try and get on top physically and they can kick the ball from anywhere.”
Blackadder has made three changes to the side that swamped the Western Force last week, with All Blacks prop Ben Franks dropped to the bench.
Six-cap All Black Wyatt Crockett replaces Franks at loosehead prop while international lock Sam Whitelock returns after being rested last week.
Powerful centre Robbie Fruean is restored to the run-on side with Adam Whitelock bumped out to the wing, relegating Sean Maitland to the reserves.
© AAP 2013
Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Adam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Richie McCaw (capt), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Res: Quentin MacDonald, Ben Franks, Tom Donnelly, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Tom Taylor, Sean Maitland.
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