Crusaders' big names return for Rebels clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Crusaders are preparing for their all-important clash with the Melbourne Rebels at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday, and head coach Scott Robertson has made a number of changes for the side’s last regular season fixture.
George Bower, Sam Whitelock, Richie Mo’unga and Sevu Reece all return to the starting side this week, while hooker Codie Taylor will be rested and hasn’t made the trip to Sydney.
It’s a timely return for Brodie McAlister, who has recovered from the head knock he sustained against the Reds and has been named to start this week in Taylor’s absence.
In the loose forwards, Ethan Blackadder is also set to return from concussion and will slot into the No.6 jersey, while Whetukamokamo Douglas shifts to No.8 in place of Cullen Grace, who has been ruled out with a hip injury he picked up against the Western Force.
Mitchell Drummond, who earlier this week announced he has re-signed with the Crusaders through to 2024, will start at scrumhalf, while the return of Mo’unga and Reece completes the changes in the backline.
“The equation is pretty simple for us, we’ll know what we need to do come Saturday in Sydney,” Robertson said.
“It’s definitely been a finals mindset for us this week, and we just need to get over there and do what is required to earn ourselves another week together.”
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Date: Saturday, June 12
Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
Kick-off: 14.35 (16.35 NZST; 04.35 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Matt Kellahan
TMO: James Leckie