Enforced changes for Crusaders

Date published: March 15 2017

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has made seven changes to the starting XV that beat the Reds last week for their clash with the Blues.

All Black Owen Franks returns to the tighthead prop jersey, while Jordan Taufua and Jed Brown join Whetu Douglas in the loose forward trio.

Bryn Hall will start at scrum-half this week against his former team, with Mitchell Drummond on the bench.

Manasa Mataele will make his Super Rugby debut, replacing his injured uncle Seta Tamanivalu at 14. George Bridge takes the other wing, with Digby Ioane also ruled out after injuring a finger. David Havili steps into full-back, with Israel Dagg out of contention after injuring his knee.

Wyatt Crockett and returns to play this week off the bench, providing prop cover alongside Michael Alaalatoa. Pete Samu provides loose forward cover, and Sean Wainui will cover the backs.

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Jed Brown, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Sean Wainui

Date: Friday, March 17
Venue: AMI Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Angus Mabey (New Zealand), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)

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