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Physical McCaw relishing play at number eight

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James Mortimer     24 Jul 2012     Getty Images

Read's cracked rib continues to trouble the number eight, and while there was a "50/50" chance he could play, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has decided to be careful with his marquee eightman.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is likely to captain the Crusaders from number eight again, a position a fired up World Cup winning skipper is looking well suited for.

Increased physicality, more sting on defence and a significant amount of ball carrying has McCaw leading the Crusaders pack from the front (of the back!), and Blackadder told Newstalk ZB the shift had suited the most capped All Black of all time.

"I think if anything, it's been quite good for him," Blackadder said.

"He's certainly bringing physical presence and I think he's played really well as a number eight. He's naturally a number seven, you can see that, I just thought he's been outstanding."

"I think he's been in the best form that I've seen in the last couple of years at the moment. He's certainly taken the ball to the line, certainly got his head in the right place and he's executing really well."

Despite talk earlier in the month of others playing at number eight, McCaw has become a permanent fixture there, while George Whitelock and Matt Todd have rounded out the loose forward combination.