Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder won’t be rushing back flanker Richie McCaw for the opening match of the season against the Rebels, if he can help it.
McCaw is one of a high number of All Blacks who are currently resting following last year’s November Tests.
Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock, Kieran Read, Ryan Crotty and Israel Dagg are all absent, while Dan Carter, Dominic Bird, Luke Romano and Joe Moody played in pre-season.
Whitelock and Read have sabbaticals in the NZRU contracts meaning they will not be back until the fifth round of Super Rugby.
As for McCaw, with Matt Todd set to captain the team from openside, the All Blacks captain could be used at six or number eight.
“We can’t use [McCaw] yet. The only All Black we will have back is Colin Slade,” Blackadder told The Press.
“He could be named on the bench [for the Rebels] but if there are injuries he could start.
“We certainly can’t pick some of these guys on form because we haven’t seen them play yet.”