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McCaw injury could ease Crusaders selection poser

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder will have to make changes for the Blues match

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Article Published: Monday 24 February 2014|

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder will have some hard selection calls this week ahead of their second round Super Rugby match against the Blues but an injury to Richie McCaw could ease matters.

The Crusader 10-18 loss at home to the Chiefs is likely to see Tyler Bleyendaal being dropped while Kieran Read and Colin Slade look likely to feature this weekend.

Crusaders captain Read was rested for the Super Rugby opener but is almost certain to start at Eden Park which could mean that Luke Whitelock drops down to the replacements bench.

Blackadder says that he was happy with the way blindside flanker George Whitelock played before he was replaced by Matt Todd in the 55th minute but he is likely to be forced to make changes as Richie McCaw has a minor calf strain.

McCaw was joined on the sidelines at training by Ryan Crotty who has a calf injury and the pair could sit out this weekend.

The pair could also play this weekend but Crusaders medical team are likely to err on the side of caution as little injuries like these can lead to extended times on the sidelines if they are not treated correctly.

Ironically McCaw's injury could ease Blackadder's selection puzzle a little as he was also pleased with the way that Todd played when he came on.

"There's a few selection headaches that we have got because everyone is playing well. George, in the time he was out there, actually played really well," Blackadder said.

"But certainly Matt Todd, when he came on, and really made a huge impact. There will be some hard calls."

In the backline Blackadder will have to choose between starting Slade or Taylor at No 10 as Dan Carter is on sabbatical.

Crusaders wings Johnny McNicholl and Nafi Tuitavake has ups and downs while Zac Guildford played for the academy side and could come into contention.

McNicholl missed the first tackle that led to Robbie Fruean's try but then later he put in a try-saving tackle on Aaron Cruden in the corner.

On the whole the Blackadder felt that the players performed well but he has to send a message out individual accountability following a display full of poor goal kicking, inaccurate passing and clumsy handling.

The Crusaders loss to the Chiefs meant that they lost a 20-month unbeaten streak in Christchurch.

"Goal kicking aside, we still had enough opportunities in the score-zone," Blackadder told Fairfax NZ News.

"We were in the right part of the field but just didn't put on enough pressure because of individual errors.

"We just can't afford to let teams off the hook."

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