McCaw returns

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McCaw returns

Richie McCaw makes his first appearance this season on the bench for the Crusaders’ clash against the Sharks on Friday.

McCaw was set to return against the Blues next week, but head coach Todd Blackadder sent a SOS to the All Blacks skipper after their shock defeat against the Reds last Friday.

Blackadder has also rushed lock Brad Thorn and prop Wyatt Crockett back into action, after previously saying he would ease the All Blacks duo back into the starting line-up as Thorn had a hectic season last year and Crockett suffered an ankle injury during the pre-season.

Thorn and Crockett replace injured lock Isaac Ross and prop Owen Franks respectively.

Jared Payne also moves from right wing to fullback, which sees Colin Slade demoted to the bench. Sean Maitland will start in the No 11 jersey.

Ryan Crotty comes in for the injured Tim Bateman.

Crusaders - 15 Jared Payne, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 George Whitelock, 6 Kieran Read (c), 5 Brad Thorn, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Ti’i Paulo, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Joe Wheeler, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Kahn Fotuali’i, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Colin Slade.

This thread will be updated throughout the course of the day…