Crusaders name strong team for semi’s


Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder has made two changes to the starting fifteen that beat the Highlanders two weeks ago.


Richie McCaw has recovered from injury to return to the line-up and will play at number 6 on Saturday night.  That sees Jordan Taufua move to the bench. Corey Flynn will take the starting hooker spot for his 150th Crusaders game, with Ben Funnell providing back-up from the bench.

The Crusaders qualified for this semi-final at home by finishing the regular season at second on the points table, while the Sharks beat the Highlanders in a quarter-final last weekend to qualify.

Blackadder said the team is preparing for it’s toughest game yet as both teams will be throwing everything they’ve got at it in their quest to make the Grand Final.  “The Sharks have shown this season that they are an extremely classy outfit and a very difficult team to beat.  This is our biggest challenge yet, but we feel ready for it.

“It is going to be awesome to play in front of a home crowd for this semi-final on Saturday night and the roar of the crowd may just be the extra boost that gets us across the line,” Blackadder said.

Tickets for the semi-final are still available through Ticket Direct –, ph. 0800 224 224 – or visit one of the ticketing outlets at The Palms, Champions of the World South City, or The Warehouse (Barrington, Hornby, Northwood, Riccarton, South City, Timaru, Rangiora and Greymouth branches only).

Kick off at AMI Stadium (Addington) is at 7:35pm this Saturday night.

Crusaders team to play the Sharks:


1.    Wyatt Crockett RESERVES:
2.    Corey Flynn 16. Ben Funnell
3.    Owen Franks 17. Joe Moody
4.    Dominic Bird 18. Nepo Laulala
5.    Samuel Whitelock 19. Jimmy Tupou
6.    Richie McCaw 20. Jordan Taufua
7.    Matt Todd 21. Willi Heinz
8.    Kieran Read (C) 22. Tom Taylor
9.    Andy Ellis 23. Johnny McNicholl
10.  Colin Slade  
11.  Nemani Nadolo  
12.  Dan Carter  
13.  Ryan Crotty (VC)  
14.  Kieron Fonotia  
15.  Israel Dagg  


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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. Damn that is a dangerous side!

    Two quick open-siders playing with the best 8 in world rugby… and oh boy lets hope they do not kick on Nadolo… 195c and 130kg winger that has everything a winger needs in his arsenal!

    Watch for Slade or Carter to cross-kick to his wing… his Jap coach reckons that there is an 80% chance of him scoring everytime someone does…

    No weaknesses in this side… and jeez the other wing is 110kg!

  2. @bchanakira2: who is the Sharks 12?

    No matter who wins the Saders are going to be crippled for the next game. This is going to be tough.

    I have a well known ref issue but Jackson I like he punishes for slowing the ball down but does allow more running game, in the ones I have seen.
    I will go to the temple and pray for a red card for MCCheat.

  3. This side is so much better than the one the Sharks played last… 5 power changes to the starting 15 and a few more in the 22…

    Personally Sharks do not have a chance… they’re up for a hiding in the second half…

  4. @bryce_in_oz: too scared to even admit. Lets hope for a miracle gentleman. Haha they have been firing at the right time. And stole second spot from the sharks. It will need something special to beat the nz outfit.

  5. @bryce_in_oz:

    “and oh boy lets hope they do not kick on Nadolo… 195c and 130kg winger that has everything a winger needs in his arsenal!”

    Kick behind him, he does not look when having to turn around and backtrack. Same issue Lomu had.

    Expect Pat and Frans to kick to the corners behind him.

    Brendan Venter has actually identified this as one of the Crusaders’ main weaknesses.

  6. @Craven:

    Straight to Dagg…

    Nadolo has an exceptional air game as well… he’s almost as good as Folau in this respect…


    I will be using every rugby superstition in the book…

    As for the Brumbies game… was just watching The Rugby Club…

    Tahs have scored more total points than any other this season… have scored more average points per game than any other… have conceded the least of any other… and have not lost a single game at home…

    If they don’t take it this year will they ever?

  7. The bigger wingers is good under the high ball. Keen to see how much pressure sharks chase is like. True his turn back is turtle style but when going forward. Be warned. Oh thats a tough one. I fancy the tahs fail this year they must request a special sabbatical next year. They just have to. With all that talent. Cheika also knows knock out rugby so must tie it up.

  8. Good side with interesting positional changes. Dan Carter inside center and not 10 and Richie McCaw on the blindside flank instead of 7 out of their usual AB positions – shows the coach rates how Slade and Todd played while Carter and McCaw were rested.

    NB Mug Punter – the blindside flanker normally gets to the breakdown after the Openside flanker. So calm down and start hurling accusations of “cheating” at the opensider Matt Todd instead. You should speak to a good flank – he could explain the difference between worldclass openside flanker play and cheating.

  9. @out wide: it has little to do with his position but his intent on the field.

    MCcaw I rate as one of the most influential players in rugby history but a lot if it as very poor sportsmanship.

    He has his own laws and one can see through stats on a recent article how his is one of the under penalized players.

    Even Kiwi commentators will openly talk about his rule breaking and it is bad for rugby. He is above the law and if there is one man equal to the ref to influence a game it is McCheat. Yes I do wish we had one, cant lie but its his intent on the field.

    Blindside or whatever it is his intent. The worst I have seen is he tripped Brussow 3 times in one match. He plays the ball openly on the ground, he is always offsides, he blocks. really one of the smarted players ever, does not even have to fetch its his nature and he cannot help himself and a lot has to do with the refs and how they deal with him.

    Matt Todd is no Ritchie and is going to cause problems I agree.

    So yes his a cheat as bad as dirty play, ruins the game.

  10. @bryce_in_oz:

    Will Dagg be behind Nadolo the whole game? That leave acres of space up the middle for the Sharks to kick then?

    And note, I said, kcik behind him, not to him, your air game does not help you if you have to turn around and scramble backwards.