Crusaders make three changes
April 18, 2013
The Crusaders missed Matt Todd against Western Force © Getty Images
Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has made three changes to his side ahead of the match against the Highlanders at AMI Stadium on Saturday.
Sam Whitelock and Matt Todd both return to the starting XV, having been rested from the loss to Western Force, while winger Zac Guildford regains the No. 11 jersey from Adam Whitelock, who moves to the bench. The Whitelock brothers are each in line to win their 50th Super Rugby cap for the Crusaders. All four Whitelock brothers are named in the 22 this weekend, as is cousin Ben Funnell.
The Crusaders return home from a three-week tour to South Africa and Australia having picked up just one win, over the Stormers. Losses to the Sharks and Force saw them drop to second last in the New Zealand conference, above only the Highlanders, and ninth in the overall standings.
Hence Blackadder is reading nothing into the Highlanders' position on the ladder.
"I know how [Highlanders coach] Jamie [Joseph] feels because that's exactly how we feel," Blackadder said. "But I don't think that will come into their psyche this week. We're almost brothers in that we know whoever turns up with the right game plan and the right mentality will beat the other team. They're a good side and we respect them."
The Crusaders posted a record 51-18 win when the teams last met in Christchurch 10 months ago, but the Highlanders had won four of their previous six clashes and often rise to the occasion for the South Island derby.
Blackadder acknowledged the Highlanders were chasing their first win, but he said the Force had managed only one win before they upset his team in Perth. "The Force were a lowly ranked side as well and we got well and truly beaten in some aspects of that game. This [Crusaders] team has to show more resolve than they did at the weekend, and we can't afford to make those errors."
Crusaders: Israel Dagg; Tom Marshall, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford; Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis; Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd, George Whitelock (captain); Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano; Owen Franks , Corey Flynn , Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Dominic Bird, Jordan Taufua, Willi Heinz, Tom Taylor, Adam Whitelock.
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'