Crusaders get their leader back for Waratahs clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Crusaders captain Scott Barrett re-joined the team in Coogee this week and will resume the captaincy on Saturday when the team takes on the Waratahs in Wollongong.
Barrett’s return is one of a few changes in the forwards this week, with head knocks to loose forward Ethan Blackadder and reserve hooker Brodie McAlister against the Reds seeing them both return home to New Zealand. Sam Whitelock also moves to the bench for this game on managed minutes.
Head coach Scott Robertson has named Michael Alaalatoa to start ahead of Oli Jager, while Barrett will be joined by Quinten Strange as the starting locks to face the Waratahs.
Blackadder has been replaced in the No.7 jersey by Sione Havili Talitui from the bench while Nathan Vella, who has been with the squad since the beginning of Super Rugby Aotearoa as injury replacement for Andrew Makalio, is set to make his Crusaders debut this week as cover for Codie Taylor at hooker.
Robertson has also elected to rest vice-captain David Havili completely for this game, which means 22-year-old Dallas McLeod earns a start in the midfield alongside Braydon Ennor.
McLeod’s inclusion at inisde centre is the only change to the backline this week.
The Crusaders are currently based in Coogee, and will travel to Wollongong after captain’s run on Friday.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Scott Barrett (captain), 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Samuel Whitelock, 20 Mitchell Dunshea, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Date: Saturday, May 29
Venue: Wollongong Showground, Wollongong
Kick-off: 15.05 (17.05 NZST; 05.05 GMT)
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Matt Kellehan, James Quinn
TMO: James Leckie