Crusaders ready for brutal battle
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Crusaders coach Scott Robertson named a squad of 30 players for their first pre-season hit-out.
The defending champions will travel north to take on the Hurricanes at the Levin Domain on Saturday.
Loose forwards Whetukamokamo Douglas and Jordan Taufua have been named captains for the first and second halves respectively.
The travelling squad also features a number of new players who are set to wear the Crusaders jersey for the first time.
Robertson said after a long pre-season, the squad is excited to finally be taking the field on Saturday.
“The group has prepared really well over a long period of time leading up to this game, and suddenly a fixture that seemed so far away pre-Christmas, is upon us,” Robertson said.
“We’ve done a lot of work getting our contact right so the boys are fully prepared to climb into their work on Saturday.
“The Hurricanes are always really physical, but this group is ready for the challenge and Levin is a great place to play,” Robertson added.
The Crusaders’ final pre-season fixture is the Farmlands Cup match against the Highlanders, which will be played next Friday, February 8, at Southbridge club.
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Leicester Faingaanuku, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas (captain) 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements – from: Isi Tu’ungafasi, Ben Funnell, George Bower, Luke Romano, John Akau’ola-Laula, Jordan Taufua (captain), Tom Christie, Cullen Grace, Mitchell Drummond, Brett Cameron, Ngane Punivai, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan, Ereatara Enari, Fergus Burke.
Date: Saturday, February 2
Venue: Levin Domain, Levin
Kick-off: 15.00 (02.00 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant referees: Nick Hogan, Dan Waenga