Crusaders 'rush' their All Black back for double header
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Crusaders travel north for their rescheduled pre-season fixture against the Blues and Chiefs on Saturday.
The pre-season match – a game of three halves at the Hautapu Sports in Cambridge – will serve as a welcome opportunity for all three teams to test scenarios and combinations in a live fixture before the Super Rugby Aotearoa season kicks off next Friday, February 26.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has confirmed the side’s All Blacks will return for 40 minutes of game time on Saturday, ahead of their opening match of the Aotearoa competition next weekend – against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The defending-champion Crusaders will play the Chiefs in the first half, and regular captain Scott Barrett returns to lead the side, while Codie Taylor will captain the second-half side against the Blues.
“While we are disappointed our match against the Blues at Eden Park couldn’t go ahead this weekend, the opportunity to reschedule this game and challenge ourselves against both the Blues and Chiefs is huge leading in to the start of the competition,” Robertson said.
“Our All Blacks will get some valuable game time tomorrow as we look ahead to Super Rugby Aotearoa, and others have a chance to put their hand up for selection against the Highlanders too.”
The matches will be played under Level Two Operating Protocols and is closed to the public.
Versus Chiefs: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 Joe Moody.
Versus Blues: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Chay Fihaki, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 George Bower.
Date: Saturday, February 20
Venue: Hautapu Sports, Cambridge
Kick-off: First match gets underway at 12.00 (23.00, Friday, February 19 GMT)