By RICHARD KNOWLER - The Press
May 5th, 2009
Todd Blackadder is prepared to play a waiting game with Richie McCaw.
Crusaders coach Blackadder was yesterday uncertain whether his skipper and openside flanker, who missed last weekend's Super 14 match against the Lions in Johannesburg because of concussion, would be declared fit for Friday night's must-win encounter against the Queensland Reds at AMI Stadium.
"It's a day by day thing. He's certainly improved from last week and over the weekend he felt really good. We will just see how he feels and take it one day at a time," Blackadder said. "We would like him to be available, of course, but there is not pressure there."
If Blackadder, who will name his team to face the Reds tomorrow, does decide to rest McCaw he is again expected to list Jonathan Poff at No7.
Even without McCaw, the Crusaders still managed to hook the all-important bonus point win from the Lions and Blackadder will be drilling that same message into his men before they face the Reds.
"Not just one player has to play well everyone does. Sometimes when you have got a guy like Richie, you could think that because he is the quality player that he will do it for you," Blackadder said."And that is not the case. We need everyone to be performing."
There will be at least one change to the side that beat the Lions 32-20 with left wing Colin Slade likely to take three weeks to recover from torn ankle ligaments.
Reserve wing, Kade Poki, is also in doubt because of a leg injury, meaning Blackadder will use either Adam Whitelock, Sean Maitland or Blair Cook to replace Slade.
Whatever the makeup of the team, one thing is certain; the Crusaders will have to again go hunting for a bonus point win to keep their playoff hopes alive and will be hoping for clear weather to assist their attack.
The long-range forecast yesterday was for rain and cold southerlies, but the Reds could also arrive in a depression after having farewelled their playoff hopes long ago and being belted 52-13 by the Brumbies last week.
Despite being forced to cope with the burden of having just four days to prepare this week, Blackadder refused to moan about the draw. The Crusaders got into their beds in Christchurch in the early hours of Monday morning after flying from Johannesburg, via Sydney.
"I don't have to play but I know I'm pretty excited about it [playing the Reds] and I know our guys are because if we put in another good performance on Friday it gives us another opportunity to ultimately get where we want to go," he said.
Meanwhile re-signed All Black lock Ali Williams is in danger of missing the start of the test season as he battles an Achilles tendon problem that has wrecked his Super 14.
Williams confirmed yesterday the lingering problem cast doubt over the start of the international campaign.