James Mortimer 25.Sep.2012Getty Images
McCaw will likely miss the bulk of the Crusaders 2013 campaign as well as the Steinlager Series against France, and in the first instance opens up the door in Christchurch.
Matt Todd has been earmarked as a potential All Black, but his chance to consistently demonstrate his skills haven't often presented themselves with McCaw the senior openside in red and black colours.
While Todd was likely to fill his spot, playing well when McCaw missed large parts of the 2011 season, he wasn't taking anything for granted.
"There's obviously a spot there at the Crusaders next year," Todd said.
"But it's just about me performing well in the pre-season and the trial grade putting my foot forward to take that."
At this stage the spotlight will fall on Chiefs flanker Sam Cane, who was picked to be McCaw's understudy this season after a series of strong performances with the Super Rugby champions.
Cane has two tests to his name, but confirmed his status with a brilliant performance in front of his home crowd in the third Steinlager Series test against Ireland.
Two tries and 16 tackles announced his arrival, although he has seen limited game time since.
"There's a lot of guys who are looking to fill that seven jersey when Richie's not available," Cane said.
"At the moment I guess within this team I'm that guy, but there's plenty of opportunity for other guys to push the stakes."