Romano starts, McCaw on bench

Date published: July 17 2013

The return of lock Luke Romano is the only change to the Crusaders starting XV for their Super Rugby play-off against the Reds.

The return of All Blacks lock Luke Romano is the only change to the Crusaders starting XV for Saturday's Super Rugby play-off against the Reds in Christchurch.

As reported earlier this week, All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw will be on the bench as he makes his first Super Rugby appearance this season after his six-month sabbatical. McCaw played 80 minutes of club rugby last weekend.

Romano has recovered from a high ankle sprain that forced him out of last week's win over the Hurricanes. He starts alongside Sam Whitelock in place of Tom Donnelly, who deputised in the second row last weekend. Donnelly drops out of the matchday squad as Luke Whitelock provides both lock and loose forward cover on the bench.

Midfielder Tom Taylor, a midweek injury doubt after suffering a head knock against the Hurricanes, has also been cleared to start.

There is one other change amongst the replacements as the versatile Adam Whitelock, who can cover wing and midfield, replaces Telusa Veainu.

Flanker Matt Todd will earn his 50th cap for the Crusaders.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Luke Whitelock, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Adam Whitelock.

Date: Saturday, July 20
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19:35 local, 17:35 NSW/ACT, 09:35 SAT, 07:35 GMT
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)