RICHIE McCAW could start at No 8 when the All Blacks play the Springboks in Wellington this Saturday.
With incumbent Kieran Read one of three Crusaders players being rested, the All Blacks skipper looks likely to be named at the boot of the scrum when coach Graham Henry announces his squad Thursday morning for the match at Westpac Stadium.
McCaw ran at No 8 during yesterday's training session at Porirua's Te Rauparaha Arena, with Jerome Kaino at blindside and Adam Thomson on the openside, the same trio that finished the 60-14 win over Fiji in Dunedin last Friday.
Should that same trio line-up against the under-strength Boks, it will be the first time in McCaw’s 95-test career that he has not started in the No 7 shirt.
It would also be a reward from Thomson, who got through a mountain of work against the Fijians and was the All Blacks’ best player on the park during their rusty performance at Carisbrook, and a chance for the curly-haired loosie to press his claims as McCaw’s back-up for the Rugby World Cup.
Sam Whitelock also looks set to partner Ali Williams in the second-row, while Dan Carter and Cory Jane, who missed the last Friday’s season opener with a finger injury, could start at first five and wing respectively.
All Blacks' assistant coach Wayne Smith confirmed the Crusaders trio of Read, lock Brad Thorn, and prop Owen Franks, along with Blues hooker Keven Mealamu, would be given another week's rest.
The same applies to wing Hosea Gear, who Smith said was close to full fitness, but would not be risked till his hamstring was 100 percent.« Back to Articles
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.