24 Jul 2008

Deans plays down absence of skippers

6:17 am on 24 July 2008

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is playing down the absence of the respective Australian and New Zealand captains from Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup clash in Sydney.

Perhaps because the Wallabies suspect the All Blacks will miss influential flanker Richie McCaw more than Australia will suffer without powerhouse centre Stirling Mortlock - and Deans knows it would be foolish to say so.

McCaw was ruled unfit to make his comeback from a month out with a ankle ligament damage - handing a Test recall for Daniel Braid after almost five years in the international wilderness - but denying the All Blacks the services of a player with the best strike rate in New Zealand's Test rugby history.

Of all the 73 All Blacks to have played 25 Tests or more, McCaw has the highest winning percentage, having been victorious in 55 of his 62 Tests.

Deans says he actually expected his old Crusaders captain, McCaw to be right for this week.....