Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Richie McCaw enjoys openside starts


Richie McCaw admitted "sub-consciously it might help a bit" if he started at openside flanker again, although don't be surprised if he reverts to sharing the fetching duties with George Whitelock against the Western Force in Perth next Friday night.

Having operated in a left-right role with Whitelock during this year's Super 14, Crusaders captain McCaw got a rare opportunity to wear his prized No7 jersey in Saturday night's 45-6 win over the Cheetahs at Christchurch's AMI Stadium and impressed with his timing at the breakdown, high tackle count (16), tackle turnovers and ability to link.

Asked later whether he would prefer coach Todd Blackadder to start him in his specialist position again McCaw said: "I suppose ... but sub-consciously it might help a bit. I don't know.

"I just enjoyed running around and actually thought with Thomas (Waldrom) carrying the ball like he did, it allowed George and I to make sure we do all the little things right like cleaning rucks and getting in the D-line."

Last week, All Blacks forwards coach Steve Hansen said McCaw will be used as specialist opensider at international level, but yesterday when Blackadder was quizzed on the prospect of his skipper being used in that role again he was non-committal.

"George and Richie have been playing in dual roles all season and they are two very good loose forwards.
"It's not about the first breakdown now (under the new breakdown interpretations), there are opportunities at the third and fourth ruck."

One thing is certain: Blackadder has quality loose forwards worming their way out of the woodwork.

Waldrom, who started at No8 in place of injured All Black Kieran Read, was in hot form as a ball runner on Saturday night and provides a starting option if his coach wants Read to revert back to being a specialist blindside flanker.

"It didn't feel a lot different to what I have been doing in the past," McCaw added in reference to his positional change.
"Whatever position you were playing in the loosies tonight it was made a lot easier by the front five. They did the job at the set pieces, especially in the scrums. It was quite easy to operate."

For Waldrom, who scored two tries – one from a pushover scrum and the other when he galloped on to a short ball – it is now a matter of hoping Blackadder gives him another crack in a starter's jersey.

"It is just life as a footy player, I think. You have ups and downs. It's hard to put into words but you just have to do what is best for the team really.
"You don't really want to be known as an impact player, but if that is my role I have to do it. I just have to wait and see what happens really."

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