By RICHARD KNOWLER - The Press Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Richie McCaw's concussion issues have been declared over after he passed an "impact" test and was named to lead the Crusaders against the Hurricanes in Christchurch on Friday night.
The head injury ruled the All Blacks captain and openside flanker out of last weekend's loss to the Brumbies and although he was bracketed with George Whitelock at No 7 yesterday morning, he was later declared fit to play at AMI Stadium.
McCaw took full part in training but coach Todd Blackadder waited until the results of the test, which McCaw sat in the morning, before confirming he would start. His return means Whitelock, who impressed with his work rate in Canberra, goes back to the bench.
Blackadder received another dose of good news when All Black Brad Thorn was also confirmed as fit to play. Despite being troubled by his foot injury, the second rower ignored the pain and ran freely at training before declaring himself a starter.
"Brad's come through [training] pretty well. It's one of those injuries that is more sore than anything else," Blackadder said.
"At the moment he looks pretty good and he will be selected to start. It's probably one of those injuries that won't go away but you just have to deal with it. I've had a similar injury myself and had a whole Super 12 of it . . . You can just battle through it."
On the downside, halfback Andy Ellis has been ruled out because of his ankle injury meaning Kahn Fotuali'i will start and Tyson Keats will be added to the reserves bench.
Stephen Brett gets another opportunity at fullback because Leon MacDonald is not fit. Blackadder hoped MacDonald would be available for next weekend's match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
With Corey Flynn ruled out because of a broken arm, Jason Macdonald will start at hooker and Daniel Perrin moves onto the bench.
CRUSADERS: Stephen Brett, Jared Payne, Casey Laulala, Tim Bateman, Kade Poki, Colin Slade, Kahn Fotuali'i, Thomas Waldrom, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Ross Filipo, Brad Thorn, Ben Franks, Jason Macdonald, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Daniel Perrin, Bronson Murray, Isaac Ross, George Whitelock, Tyson Keats, Ryan Crotty, Adam Whitelock.