Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has revealed that Matt Todd's speedy recovery from a torn pectoral muscle could keep Richie McCaw out of his favoured No.7 jersey.
Last year in September Todd tore his pectoral muscle and was predicted to return to the field in late March but he is now in line to start in the Crusaders first pre-season game against the Highlanders in Motueka on February the 7th.
Todd's speedy recovery means that Blackadder now has to decide whether Todd will start at 7 and McCaw at 6 against the defending Super Rugby champion Chiefs in Christchurch on February the 21st.
Thirty-three-year-old McCaw has made it clear that he prefers to play at openside flanker but says that he is willing to move if necessary.
"Probably 7," said McCaw when asked where he wanted to start.
"But with Matt Todd coming back with injury ... Hopefully I will be playing 7 but if there other reasons to play elsewhere then I will do that."
All Black coach Steve Hansen would no doubt prefer McCaw to play at No 7 for the Crusaders ahead of the June Test series against England.
"To be honest that is my best position," McCaw told Fairfax NZ News.
"If I can play there, that is where I intend to play. And I think Toddy realises that. But if someone is injured and there is a need (to change) then Matt goes pretty well there too."
McCaw only returned from his off-season break on Monday but Blackadder is desperate to make a fast start this season and he expects the All Black captain to be available to play against the Chiefs.
Injuries and sabbaticals have prevented McCaw from playing in a Super Rugby season opener since 2009.
Blackadder insists that he is keeping an open mind about his back row selections.
"I will look at all options. I see Richie has being a 6 as well."
Kieran Read is unlikely to be moved out of the No.8 jersey and Blackadder is not ruling out playing his flankers on the opposite side to what they usually play to get them on the field.
"I'm open to that option. Matt Todd was one of our better performers last year. "
"I don't want guys sitting on the bench who should be out there starting. For these guys it's about their performances on the track."