Richie McCaw has confirmed he will return to rugby in 2013 by playing for his Christchurch club ”in three or four weeks”.
McCaw, who is on a New Zealand Rugby Union-approved sabbatical, has handed over the All Blacks captaincy to Crusaders teammate Kieran Read for the three-test series against France.
Although he wants to ease his way back by playing in the Christchurch metro club competition, McCaw, 32, has not discounted representing the Crusaders in their quest to win an eighth Super Rugby title.
”That’s the plan (to play for Christchurch) but how many of them (games) I’m still not sure. I want to get through some training and depending on how the Crusaders go … I want to start playing after I have done 11 or 12 weeks of pre-season and after that I will be ready to play.”
The time-frame to play for the Crusaders is tight.
The southern franchise have just three regular-season matches, against the Highlanders, Chiefs and Hurricanes, remaining. The first match in Dunedin is on June 29.
If they qualify for the playoffs, which begin on July 19, McCaw could potentially be recruited to either start or sit on the bench. He is eager to be fully match-fit before the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship opener against the Wallabies in Sydney on August 17.
Whether he would be comfortable jumping straight back into the Crusaders starting side, and replacing No 7 Matt Todd, is something that would also need to be resolved.
”The first thing I have got to worry about it being ready to play – if needed. I would never go and play if I was ‘almost’. I have got to be right,” McCaw added.
”And it has to be right for the Crusaders too. Matt has done a pretty good job. Say, there were injuries if there was a need (for him to play) … They have always said, if you are available and ready to go we will look at it.
”But if I am not needed, that is fine too.”
McCaw said the decision about whether he will represent the Crusaders will involve himself and coach Todd Blackadder.
”I have already had a discussion with Todd and told him the plan and he has brought into it. He just said ‘yep’. When they get back together (after the June tests) I will probably do a bit of training with them and see if I am up to speed with everything and get some rugby contact.