Preview: Canterbury v North Harbour

Date published: August 31 2012

All Blacks prop Wyatt Crockett has boosted Canterbury's front row for Saturday's ITM Cup crossover clash against North Harbour.

All Blacks prop Wyatt Crockett has boosted Canterbury's front row for Saturday's ITM Cup crossover clash against North Harbour in Christchurch.

Crockett – who started for New Zealand in their 22-0 win over Australia last Saturday – returns to the Canterbury line-up after being released by the All Blacks, pushing Paea Fa'anunu to the bench.

Number eight Nasi Manu has recovered from injury after sitting out the defending champions' victory against Auckland, and replaces Luke Whitelock at the back of the scrum. Discarded All Black Andy Ellis – who bagged a brace last time out – makes way for Willi Heinz and drops to the bench.

Codie Taylor replaces Ben Funnell at hooker, while lock Luke Katene pushes Joel Everson to the bench.

Canterbury sit third on the Premiership table and will have a chance to climb one higher when they host the Championship contenders who suffered an opening-round 44-22 defeat to Waikato.

As a result, North Harbour's head coach Liam Barry has made two changes to his team.

Both are in the back-row as Irwin Finau and Malakai Ravulo swap roles with the latter relegated to the bench, while number eight Vili Fihaki will make his ITM Cup debut in place of the injured Jim Tuivaiti.

“It was always going to be a challenge to face last year's Premiership finalists in the first two games,” Barry said.

“We then have only a three day turnaround before we play Counties Manukau at home on Tuesday night. But the boys are looking forward to the games ahead, starting with tomorrow's clash with Canterbury.”

The teams:

Canterbury: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Willi Heinz , 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Luke Katene, 4 Dom Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett .
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Paea Fa'anunu, 18 Joel Everson, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Telusa Veainu, 22 Rhys Llewelyn.

North Harbour: 15 Luke Devcich, 14 David Raikuna, 13 Cory Aporo, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Michael Hobbs, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Vili Fihaki, 7 Sam Hayes, 6 Irwin Finau, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Chris Smith, 3 Ben Afeaki (c), 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Salesi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Manu Leiataua, 17 James Afoa, 18 Api Ratuniyarawa, 19 Malakai Ravulo, 20 Brenton Helleur, 21 James Semple, 22 Pita Ah Ki.