McCaw is back in charge


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There is one change to the starting team, while Richard McCaw assumes the captaincy of the Crusaders side named to tackle the embattled Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

McCaw successfully made his return to the Crusaders side during last weekend’s 36-11 win over the Stormers at Jade Stadium. He now takes over as captain, having last led the side during the 2006 final against the Hurricanes.

Crusaders coach Robbie Deans said the return of the leadership armband to McCaw was in no way a slight on the performance of hooker Corey Flynn in the role, after he led the side during its opening seven matches.

“Corey did a very good job for us in a challenging set of circumstances,” Deans says, “and he remains a very important part of the leadership group. It is a testament to the leadership work of Corey and the senior players around him, that he hands over the captaincy responsibility with the side having performed particularly well in the last couple of weeks.”

In Flynn’s charge, the Crusaders won four of the opening seven matches, and head to Sydney this weekend lying third on the Rebel Sport Super 14 ladder.

The only personnel change in the side to play in Sydney sees Kevin Senio in at scrum-half, with Andrew Ellis swapping places with Senio to slot in among the replacements. Leon MacDonald, Aaron Mauger, Daniel Carter, Reuben Thorne, Chris Jack and McCaw all gain their second starts of the campaign after returning to duty against the Stormers.

Once again, the Crusaders have opted for a five forward, two back, split on the bench.

That dynamic served the side well last weekend, with it being noticeable that the bench players made an impact when they took the field in the second period.

“The whole group contributed to last weekend’s performance and we are aiming to continue that trend,” Deans says.

“The Waratahs present a different type of challenge to what we’ve had in the last five matches, which have all been against South African teams. Given their present circumstances, they are going to be tough to beat. The Waratahs have got some quality players and will see Saturday night as a major opportunity to make a statement about their character.”

The Waratahs beat the Crusaders 17-12 in a pre-season match at Aussie Stadium at the end of January. The Crusaders have also lost on three previous occasions in Sydney during the competition’s 11 years, while only winning narrowly 33-27 on their most recent championship visit in 2005. The last three championship matches between the sides have all been determined by margins of 10 points or less.

Crusaders: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Kevin Senio, 8 Mose Tuiali’i, 7 Richard McCaw (c), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Michael Paterson, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Andrew Ellis, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Johnny Leo’o

Date: Saturday 31 March 2007
Venue: Aussie Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 19.40 (9.40 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Touch judges: Deon van Blommestein, George Ayoub (Australia)
Television match official: Bradley Wahl (Australia)
Assessor: Ian Scotney (Australia), Paul Ramsay (New Zealand)


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