Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Rugby: McCaw on bench for quarterfinal

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will make his first appearance for Canterbury this season in Friday night's Air NZ Cup quarterfinal against Tasman in Christchurch. His return will bolster a loose forward trio weakened by Mose Tuiali'i's season-ending neck injury.

McCaw, who resumed training with his provincial side this week, has been named on the bench for the sudden-death derby between the Crusaders' powerbase and feeder union. McCaw is a welcome addition to a Canterbury side which finished the regular season in second place behind title favourites Wellington.

Out of action since the Tri-Nations clincher in Brisbane on September 13, McCaw is expected to replace starting openside George Whitelock at some point. Kieran Read makes his second consecutive start at No 8 after Japan-bound Tuali'i, who was injured after playing off the bench against Southland last weekend, was ruled out for the remainder of the season.

In other changes to the pack that started in Invercargill, lock Isaac Ross is promoted from the bench for James Broadhurst. First five-eighth Stephen Brett remains unavailable with a leg injury while Casey Laulala makes his first appearance in the starting line-up after making his season debut off the bench last weekend.

In other changes to the backline from the side that beat Southland 25-6, Paul Williams replaces Sean Maitland on the right wing while Tim Bateman also starts in midfield - Hamish Gard drops to the bench.

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