Crusaders shift Dagg for Blues clash
February 27, 2013
Israel Dagg will play on the left wing against Blues flyer Frank Halai. © Getty Images
All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg will have almost completed a full circle in the Crusaders backline in 2013 when they kick off their Super Rugby campaign against the Blues at Eden Park.
Dagg, more than comfortable at fullback or wing, will line-up on the left flank to set up a mouth-watering clash with Blues flyer Frank Halai while Tom Taylor will don the No 15 jersey.
Coach Todd Blackadder experimented with Dagg at centre, a move that has worked wonders for Chiefs fullback Tim Nanai-Williams, during the pre-season but it did not produce the same effect.
The 24-year-old from Hawke's Bay, who began the 2011 season on the wing to relieve his dodgy groin of any kicking, will look to link well with centre Robbie Fruean, who marks his 50th Super Rugby appearance on Friday night.
Meanwhile, capped All Blacks Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Luke Romano and Sam and George Whitelock comprise a forward pack that will be much more physical than the one the Blues dominated in Wellington last week.
Captain Kieran Read will command the team from the back of the scrum while, just outside him, Andy Ellis and Dan Carter form a familiar combination that will drive the attack.
Two debutants, Joe Moody and Dominic Bird, have the opportunity to make their first appearance for the red-and-blacks if called upon from the bench.
Crusaders: 1.Wyatt Crockett, 2.Corey Flynn, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Luke Romano, 5.Sam Whitelock, 6.George Whitelock, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Kieran Read (c), 9.Andy Ellis, 10. Dan Carter, 11.Israel Dagg, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Robbie Fruean, 14.Adam Whitelock, 15.Tom Taylor. Reserves: 16.Ben Funnell, 17.Joe Moody, 18.Dominic Bird, 19.Luke Whitelock, 20.Willi Heinz, 21.Tyler Bleyendaal, 22.Tom Marshall.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies