Todd to captain Crusaders in Super Rugby openers

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has revealed that open-side flanker Matt Todd will captain the side in the opening Super Rugby rounds.

All Blacks Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock have exercised “mini sabbatical” clauses in their contracts so Blackadder has given Todd the captaincy while they sit out the first four weeks.

Twenty-six-year-old Todd will captain the Crusaders in their opening three matches – against the Melbourne Rebels, Highlanders and Chiefs – as they have a bye in round four and Read is expected back for Round 5.

Todd’s selection comes as a surprise as in terms of selection in the All Blacks Todd is third behind Richie McCaw and Sam Cane but the appointment recognizes how much the players and management respect him.

“Matt Todd is going to captain the team in Kieran Read’s absence,” Blackadder told Stuff.

“He was our player of the year last year. He’s been involved all the way though our pre-season which we thought was pretty important for our group. He is a guy that is respected by everyone in our environment which includes our All Blacks.

“You’ve got to be able to command a spot and be able to walk the talk. We see it as a good opportunity for him to lead the team. He has fantastic leadership skills. If anyone has earned the right, it’s him.”

Todd’s appointment as captain possibly means that All Black captain McCaw could feature at blindside and No 8 in the early matches.

Other candidates for the loose forward role are Jordan Taufua, Luke Whitelock and Tom Sanders.

“Depending on what we do with Matt, we could play him (McCaw) on the other side, but it’s more likely he will be seven,” said Blackadder who suggested that he could switch McCaw between six and eight until Read returns.

Blackadder said that he is also hoping that giving Todd the captaincy will have the bonus of allowing Carter and McCaw to make unburdened returns so they can can concentrate on their performances.

“DC has been in early which is great and Richie will be transitioning in. I just want those guys to come into the environment and perform.”

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