Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has named his Super rugby team to play the Sharks with three changes including starting Tom Taylor at fullback for Israel Dagg.
Blackadder’s team smashed the Reds in Brisbane last weekend without regular captain Kieran Read who will again be missing this weekend.
Blackadder said Kieran Read was again ruled out of contention early in the week rather than pressuring him to be ready to play with little time to prepare.
“Kieran was still showing some really minor signs of concussion at the start of the week and, given that it’s been a short week for us to prepare anyway due to a late flight back from Brisbane, we decided the sensible thing to do was to make the call early that he wouldn’t be available.”
“He hasn’t been able to fully participate in contact training for a little while so we’re better off giving him more space and time to get back to 100 percent,” Blackadder said.
After the victory over the Reds in Brisbane Blackadder has made three changes to the side that played last week.
Dominic Bird will partner up with Samuel Whitelock at lock this week, with Luke Romano out of contention after breaking his ankle in last week’s match.
Halfbacks Willi Heinz and Andy Ellis have rotated again so that Heinz takes the starting spot for his fiftieth Crusaders game.
The final change is at fullback, where Tom Taylor will step into the fold in place of Israel Dagg who has been rested.
“Leaving Izzy out of the mix this week is purely preventative,” Blackadder said.
“We’ve been really happy with the way he’s been playing, but there are some early signs of wear and tear and we just want to make sure that we manage that so that he can continue to play at his best.”
“The crowds at our home games this season have been amazing. It makes a huge difference to the team to play in front of a stadium full of boisterous Crusaders supporters, so we would love to have the stadium packed out again on Saturday night to help us take on this season’s top team.”
1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Corey Flynn ,3. Owen Franks ,4. Dominic Bird,5. Samuel Whitelock ,6. Jordan Taufua ,7. Richie McCaw (VC) ,8. Luke Whitelock,9. Willi Heinz ,10.Colin Slade ,11.Nemani Nadolo ,12.Ryan Crotty (C) ,13.Rey Lee-Lo ,14.Johnny McNicholl ,15.Tom Taylor
Replacements : 16. Ben Funnell ,17. Tim Perry , 18. Nepo Laulala ,19. Jimmy Tupou ,20. George Whitelock ,21. Andy Ellis / Willi Heinz , 22. Tyler Bleyendaal , 23. Nafi Tuitavake