Razor ready to unleash front row monster
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has named his team for their home game against the Blues on Sunday.
The side includes the return of Codie Taylor, Sam Whitelock, Sione Havili Talitui and Cullen Grace in the forward pack, as well as an unchanged backline.
Tamaiti Williams is also in line to make his Crusaders debut off the bench this week, in jersey No.17.
Australia-born Williams, who spent two years in the New Zealand Secondary Schools side and two years with the New Zealand Under-20 team, will likely come on in place of loosehead prop George Bower – but is capable of propping up both sides of the scrum.
Robertson has said the ANZAC Day fixture is just reward for the 21-year-old, who’s been working hard off the pitch in his debut season with the Crusaders.
“Tamaiti is a big human. It’s a great opportunity for him to come in as a young fella and play a big match,” Robertson said.
“He’s trained really well and he’s ready to go.
“He can play both sides, which is pretty incredible for a man that’s six-five, 130 odd kg.”
Williams is a product of Saint Kentigern College (although he began his schooling at Kerikeri College in New Zealand’s far north), the high school that’s produced the likes of Joe Rokocoko, Jerome Kaino, John Afoa and, more recently, TJ Faiane, Braydon Ennor and Blake Gibson.
Robertson made it clear that while his new prop is from the north, he’s now a Crusaders man through and through.
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“He was an Auckland boy,” Robertson said.
“[Sunday’s match is] probably a little bit more personal, obviously, [give] where he comes from and his history… Everyone up north will be really proud of him.
“He’s worked really hard and he’s good to go.”Click on the team list below to read more about our team to face the Blues.”
Mitch Dunshea and Tom Sanders both move to the reserves this week, making way for Sam Whitelock and Sione Havili Talitui, and there is a reshuffle in the loose forward trio – with Barrett moving back to lock, Ethan Blackadder slotting in on the blindside flank and Grace returning at No.8.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Date: Sunday, April 25
Venue: Addington Showgrounds, Christchurch
Kick-off: 15.35 (03.35 GMT)
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Paul Williams
TMO: Chris Hart