Bleyendaal at fly-half for Crusaders

19th Feb 2014, 05:53

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At 10: Tyler Bleyendaal

At 10: Tyler Bleyendaal

The Crusaders have named Tyler Bleyendaal at fly-half for Friday's New Zealand Conference opener against the Chiefs in Christchurch.

The Crusaders have named Tyler Bleyendaal at fly-half for Friday's New Zealand Conference opener against the Chiefs in Christchurch.

Their is no-place for Clermont-bound wing former All Blacks wing Zac Guildford, as head coach Todd Blackadder has named a team that includes three Crusader debutants plus a fourth on the bench

Tim Perry, who played his first Super Rugby game last year for the Blues, will make his first start for the Crusaders at loosehead prop.

Outside centre Rey Lee-Lo is another player who made his Super Rugby debut last year (for the Hurricanes).

New Zealand Sevens player, Nafi Tuitavake, was named in the Crusaders' wider training group for this year but has impressed enough during the pre-season to make his Super Rugby debut on the wing on Friday night. He'll be supported by Rob Thompson in the reserves.

Blackadder says these players have been rewarded for their efforts during the pre-season and he is confident they are up to the task.

"We made it clear to players from the outset that our pre-season games would be viewed as trial matches. We thought it was important to start with a clean slate, put all players on an even footing and ask them to prove themselves before the season started. These players did that," said Blackadder.

Blackadder said Bleyendaal was competing more with Colin Slade, who misses selection with a calf injury.

"We just lost that preparation time with him out on the field, so we didn't want to risk that

"Tyler, [Tom Taylor] and Slade were in a neck and neck race, so we just felt that the best thing for the team this week is just to run with Tyler, so he gets that onfield preparation time"

"Tyler's deserved that role, he's been in a real fight with Colin Slade

"And with Colin Slade injuring his calf he just hasn't been able to do the preparation this week.

"But Tyler selected himself on form over time"

Richie McCaw will captain the team and play at seven, with brothers George and Luke Whitelock making up the loose forward trio.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Tim Perry
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Rob Thompson

Date: Friday, February 21
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19.35 (08.35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)