Super Rugby Pacific: Crusaders boosted as All Blacks veteran returns for Waratahs clash
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has named his matchday squad for the Super Rugby Pacific clash against the Waratahs in Christchurch on Saturday, with experienced All Black Sam Whitelock returning to start at lock.
Whitelock, who has been sidelined for the past two weeks with an Achilles injury, comes in as a replacement for skipper Scott Barrett who is taking his final All Blacks rest week.
Codie Taylor to lead the side
That means fellow All Black Codie Taylor will captain the Crusaders and he comes in at hooker for Brodie McAlister, who did duty there during last weekend’s win over Moana Pasifika.
Joining Whitelock in the second-row is Quinten Strange while Taylor packs down in the front-row alongside Tamaiti Williams and Kershawl Sykes-Martin, who are the starting props.
In the back-row, Cullen Grace starts at number eight while Tom Christie and Christian Lio-Willie are the two flankers.
Meanwhile, in the backline, the experienced duo of Mitch Drummond and Richie Mo’unga return as the starting half-backs, replacing Noah Hotham and Fergus Burke respectively.
Burke has been shifted to full-back for the Waratahs clash and he takes over from Will Jordan, who is being rested along with Josh Goodhue.
That means Braydon Ennor is back at outside centre and he forms a centre combination with David Havili, who returns at inside centre.
More backline changes
With Havili back in midfield, Dallas McLeod moves to the right wing while Leicester Fainga’anuku comes in to wear the number 11 jersey and they take over from Chay Fihaki and Macca Springer, who were the starting wings against Moana.
Fihaki and Hotham are amongst the replacements while Reuben O’Neill is set to make his Crusaders debut off the bench. The current Taranaki and former Chiefs player has been named as front-row cover.
Crusaders: 15 Fergus Burke, 14 Dallas McLeod, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitch Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Christian Lio-Willie, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Tamaiti Williams, 2 Codie Taylor (c), 1 Kershawl Sykes-Martin
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Seb Cader, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Sione Havili Talitui, 21 Noah Hotham, 22 Chay Fiahki, 23 Will Gualter
Date: Saturday, May 27
Venue: Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 16:35 local (05:35 BST, 04:35 GMT)
Referee: James Doleman (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Jono Bredin (New Zealand), Fraser Hannon (New Zealand)
READ MORE: Super Rugby Pacific: Moana Pasifika star on his way to the Crusaders