Dagg on bench duty for Crusaders

26th Feb 2014, 06:46

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Dropped: Israel Dagg

Dropped: Israel Dagg

All Blacks full-back Israel Dagg has been dropped from the Crusaders' starting XV for Friday's clash with the Blues in Auckland.

All Blacks full-back Israel Dagg has been dropped from the Crusaders' starting XV for Friday's clash with the Blues in Auckland.

Dagg's omission is one of four changes to the side that lost last weekend's opener to the Chiefs in Christchurch. He is replaced by Colin Slade, who has recovered from a calf injury.

Kieran Read returns for his first start of the season to play at number eight and captain the side. He takes over from Luke Whitelock, who drops out of the matchday squad.

Richie McCaw and George Whitelock are the starting openside and blindside flankers, and Matt Todd will again provide support from the bench.

Rob Thompson will be the 175th player to make his Crusaders debut when he replaces Johnny McNicholl on the wing. Nafi Tuitavake will make just his second start on the other wing.

And in the final change, Tom Taylor, comes into the run-on side at fly-half at the expense of Tyler Bleyendaal, who missed five penalty attempts last weekend.

Crusaders: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Rob Thompson, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Richie McCaw, 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 Adam Whitelock, 23 Israel Dagg.

Date: Friday, February 28
Kick-off: 19:35 (06:35 GMT)
Venue: Eden Park Stadium, Auckland
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)