PREVIEW: All Blacks dominate Crusaders and Highlanders clash

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:58
Large scott robertson celebrates 2017 800

SUPER RUGBY PRE-SEASON: Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has included nine All Blacks in his starting XV for their final match of the pre-season Highlanders.

The 29-man squad, who will travel to Waimumu, will be captained by Sam Whitelock, while Matt Todd and Ryan Crotty have been named vice-captains.

2018 will be the third year the Crusaders and Highlanders have contested the Farmlands Cup.

In 2016, the inaugural match in Waimumu ended in a 19-all draw, while the Crusaders won last year's pre-season game in Darfield.

Highlanders also welcome back some All Blacks for the first time this season with Liam Squire, Luke Whitelock, Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga and Waisake Naholo all named to start.

Liam Coltman will also play his first match since injuring his ankle in the 2017 quarterfinal against the Crusaders.

Head Coach Aaron Mauger appreciates the significance of the match "We are certainly approaching the game as our final dress rehearsal before our first round clash with the Blues. It’s a good opportunity to give a few guys some rugby who haven’t been involved in the field so far this preseason,"

The team has an experienced look to it with no debutants in the starting fifteen. The side will be co-captained by Ben Smith and Ash Dixon.

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Braydon Ennor, 11 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Peter Samu, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Chris King, Ben Funnell, Oliver Jager, Luke Romano, Quinten Strange, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Billy Harmon, Mitchell Drummond, Mithcel Hunt, Jone Macilai, Tim Bateman, Manasa Mataele, George Bridge.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Matt Faddes, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Alex Ainley, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Elliot Dixon, 22 Kayne Hammington, 23 Fletcher Smith, 24 Teihorangi Walden, 25 Tevita Nabura

Date: Thursday, February 15
Venue: Fred Booth Park, Waimumu
Kick-off: 18.00 (3.00 GMT)
Referee: TBC


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