Carter returns for Crusaders
March 22, 2012
Dan Carter: Ready to return against the Cheetahs © Getty Images
All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter is set to make his much-awaited return to rugby after being named on the bench for the Crusaders' Super Rugby clash with the Cheetahs on Saturday.
The 29-year-old has been sidelined since suffering a groin injury during New Zealand's Rugby World Cup campaign. However, after a long road to recovery he is now fit to take his place in the match-day 22 when the Crusaders christen their new Christchurch home.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has made further changes with Israel Dagg returning to his favoured position of full-back while fit-again Ryan Crotty comes in at inside centre and Tom Taylor takes over from Tyler Blayendaal at fly-half. In the pack Sam and Luke Whitelock are promoted from the bench to start in the second-row and back-row.
The Melbourne Rebels have recalled fly-half Danny Cipriani for their clash with the Western Force on Friday. The 24-year-old, who will return to England next season to play for Sale Sharks, was on the bench for the Rebels' defeat to the Cheetahs last time out. However, he returns with James O'Connor moving back to inside centre and Nick Phipps also being recalled at scrum-half.
"The combination of Nick [Phipps], Danny [Cipriani] and James [O'Connor] worked well towards the end of the match last week so we've kept with that, while Richard Kingi is an evasive and illusive runner so we'd like him to spark the back three," Rebels coach Damian Hill said.
The Blues, who are without injured forwards Jerome Kaino and Keven Mealamu and the suspended Luke Braid, kick off the weekend's action against the Hurricanes in Auckland on Friday. The Auckland outfit have recorded just one victory in their opening four Super Rugby matches but have All Blacks Piri Weepu, Ma'a Nonu and Tony Woodcock all starting against the Canes.
The Waratahs, who have picked up just one victory so far this season, will hope No.8 Wycliff Palu can give them a lift when they face the Sharks in Sydney on Saturday as they look to keep pace with the Reds and the Brumbies at the top of the Australian conference.
''He's a world-class player, probably one of the best players in his position in the world,'' coach Michael Foley told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''The expectation is not for Cliff to go out there and win the game, but that he provides a fair bit of momentum for the team physically and mentally.''
The Brumbies welcome back lock Sam Carter and half-back Nic White for their clash with the Highlanders in Canberra as they look to bounce back from their narrow defeat to the Chiefs last time out.
Wallabies winger Digby Ioane will miss the Reds' clash with the Bulls after being banned for five weeks for a dangerous tackle on the Sharks' Marcell Coetzee.
In the weekend's final clash the Lions entertain the Stormers in Johannesburg
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