Crusaders lose star wing
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Crusaders are preparing for their first trip across the Tasman since March last year, and will travel to Brisbane on Thursday ahead of their match against the Reds on Saturday.
As well as making a few changes to the side this week, head coach Scott Robertson has named three additional players for the Crusaders two-match tour to Australia, with Fletcher Newell, Nathan Vella and Fergus Burke all set to make the trip.
In the backs, Mitchell Drummond and Will Jordan both return from a rest to start at scrumhalf and fullback respectively, while Sevu Reece takes the right wing spot in place of Manasa Mataele.
It’s a timely return for Jordan, with George Bridge ruled out of the Crusaders touring squad after having his appendix removed this week.
Bridge’s post-surgery recovery is expected to take between four and six weeks, which will rule him out for the rest of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season.
In the pack, prop Oliver Jager will start and Michael Alaalatoa has been named on the bench. Codie Taylor will once again lead the side, while regular captain Scott Barrett is recovering after being medically ruled out of last week’s game against the Brumbies. The Crusaders have opted to give Barrett this week off as well, but he is expected to join the team in Australia next week.
Tom Sanders also won’t make the trip to Brisbane due to a nasal fracture, and has been replaced by Ethan Blackadder as the starting No.7 against the Reds. Whetukamokamo Douglas will wear the No.6 jersey.
Finally, Sione Havili Talitui makes a welcome return from concussion to provide loose forward cover in the reserves.
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 Cullen Grace, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Oliver Jager, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Sione Havili Talitui, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Date: Saturday, May 22
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.45 (21.45 NZST; 09.45 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Jordan Way
TMO: Brett Cronan