All Blacks: Risk versus reward doesn't add up for McCaw

By Gregor Paul in Dunedin

The risk versus reward scenario of Richie McCaw playing in tomorrow's game didn't add up so the decision was made to scratch him.

The All Black skipper's calf probably could have withstood playing against Australia but coach Steve Hansen wants his skipper fit and ready to play against France and Paris in a few weeks.

Normally such a decision would have required considerable debate: prolonged decision and agonising given the ramifications. But not these days. Not now Sam Cane has shown as much as he has.

Not now that Kieran Read carries the captaincy as easily as he does. "He's got a tight calf and at the end of the day we weren't prepared to risk it and have him miss the end of year tour," said Hansen about his skipper.

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"We could have played him but the risk and reward wasn't worth it so we haven't. And CJ [Cory Jane] has done a grade one hamstring and he did that right at the end of training.

We thought he'd pull up okay but he hasn't."

Such dramas have become par for the course and Hansen's take was very much that tomorrow will be business as usual. Such is the depth of the All Blacks that there is even a sense of excitement at the prospect of seeing Charles Piutau play a full game.

The youngster has been impressive in his cameos to date and is a player with a touch of magic.

"One man's misfortune is another's opportunity," said Hansen. "The hardest person who this has been hardest on is Steven Luatua who hasn't done a lot of training this week. But he's come onto the bench and trained well this afternoon. Sam [Cane] has been doing all the work anyway and Charles has been training the wing all season. So we expect them to play well."

Jane is expected to still be named in the end of year tour party. His injury is unlikely to come right before the game in Tokyo, but Hansen was confident the veteran wing would be fit by the time his side assembles in Paris.

As to the impact of losing McCaw and Jane? "We have got to do what we have been doing all week and that is prepare to play the Aussies and prepare to play well."

- Herald on Sunday

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