Planet Rugby

Preview: Brumbies v Crusaders

03rd May 2013 11:21

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George Smith in 2004

Record man: George Smith

Two of the great Super Rugby outfits from over the years meet in Canberra as the Brumbies take on the seven-time champion Crusaders this Sunday.

Match-ups between men like George Gregan and Justin Marshall, Joe Roff and Marika Vunibaka and Stephen Larkham and Andrew Mehrtens have lasted long in the memory but it's interesting to see George Smith and Dan Carter poised to go at each other once again. Cue the rugby nostalgia.

It will be a special day for Smith as he will break scrum-half Gregan's record as the most capped Brumby when he moves onto 137 appearances.

Smith edges closer to his second British and Irish Lions series by the week. We'd pick him at six with Liam Gill or Michael Hooper wearing seven.

The Crusaders had the slight edge over the Brumbies in yesteryear but this season it's the men from Canberra hitting all the right notes while Sunday's visitors struggle for fluidity - so much so that they have been experimenting with changes that this week sees Israel Dagg dropped down to the replacements bench.

"It's just through poor form, he hasn't been playing that well so we have decided to take him out of the starting fifteen," said coach Todd Blackadder, who is not holding back in selection.

"It just comes down to form. Israel's had every opportunity to get out there and play well, he's not the only one that hasn't played to his full potential so far, but he's been inconsistent."

Robbie Fruean was the player to get a break last weekend against the Rebels but he returns at centre alongside Ryan Crotty, with Tom Taylor at fifteen in place of All Black Dagg.

The Brumbies meanwhile are sitting pretty at the top of the standings with just one defeat to their name so far - that draw against the Kings may still sting the Australian franchise.

Jake White has real quality in his group of that there is little doubt. No stars just a squad of hungry youngsters who are pushing for Test calls. Jesse Mogg will look to continue his rise alongside Henry Speight and Joe Tomane while Christian Lealiifano is a Wallaby 12.

White makes one change to his side this week as Dan Palmer returns at tighthead instead of Scott Sio as Ben Alexander moves to loosehead ahead of a mouth-watering showdown.

Prediction: On form we go with the hosts. Brumbies by 7!

The teams:

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Fotu Auelua, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Peter Kimlin, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Leon Power, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Pat McCabe.

Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 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 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Israel Dagg.

Date: Sunday, May 5
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 16:05 (07:05 BST, 06:05 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia)

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