Carter, Thorn and Read return for Crusaders
February 10, 2011
Dan Carter is set for a return to action with the Crusaders © Getty Images
All Blacks Dan Carter, Brad Thorn and Kieran Read will return to action for the Crusaders in their final pre-season hit out against the Highlanders in Oamaru on Friday.
The trio have not laced up their boots since returning from New Zealand's Grand Slam tour of Europe last November and will hope to hit the ground running prior to the franchise's Super Rugby opener against the Blues in Auckland on February 19.
Former All Blacks hooker Corey Flynn also makes his first appearance since injuring a calf during Canterbury's successful ITM Cup campaign last year.
Their inclusion is a boost for coach Todd Blackadder following Tuesday's revelations that inspirational captain Richie McCaw will be sidelined for six weeks with a foot injury.
Lock Sam Whitelock is the only member of the Crusaders' current All Black contingent to be involved in each of the team's pre-season games - he also featured in the 42-15 loss to Queensland and last weekend's 19-14 win over the Melbourne Rebels.
However, in a positional switch Whitelock will play on the blindside flank against the Highlanders to accommodate Thorn's return to the second-row alongside former All Black Chris Jack.
Whitelock's older brother George starts on the openside, where he is in competition with Matt Todd to fill the void left by McCaw during the early rounds of the competition. Fullback Israel Dagg was not considered after straining a quad muscle against the Rebels
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