The Crusaders are back at home this weekend when they play the Brumbies on Saturday.
It was two different weeks for the Crusaders on the road the past two weeks with a loss against the Waratahs and a good win against the Hurricanes.
Owen Franks will runout for his 150th time on Saturday for the franchise. He was named in both the Waratahs and Hurricanes matches but was withdrawn at the last minute due to a niggly neck injury.
Matt Todd will lead the team as Sam Whitelock has been named on the bench
With Jack Goodhue being rested this week, Tim Bateman will partner with Ryan Crotty in the midfield.
Leicester Faingaanuku will make his debut for the franchise off the bench.
Seva Reece will start on the wing with Will Jordan on the other side.
All Black captain Kieran Read will play in his second match of the season.
The Brumbies are coming off a bye weekend after their loss against the Reds the week before.
It has been an inconstant season so far for the Brumbies and this weekend can either be a great turnaround or another disaster which makes their chances of making the playoff very slim.
Darcy Swain will make his debut for the Brumbies. He has come through the Brumbies academic and much are expected from the young man.
Swain is one of five changes in the side to take on the champions.
Saturday will see the return of Toni Plulu who has recovered from a fractured cheekbone.
Scott Sio, Folau Fainga’a and Rory Arnold are being rested rested by Head Coach Dan McKellar and he has selected veteran hooker Josh Mann-Rea for his first start of the season, in a front row that sees the return of Allan Alaalatoa alongside James Slipper.
Murray Douglas will also get his first start in Brumbies colours with Swain.
It will be a huge surprise if the Brumbies do get a win against the Crusaders in their own backyard but one can never say never in this competition.
Some interesting facts (By OPTA)
- The Crusaders have won their last eight Super Rugby games against the Brumbies, last losing to the Australian side over 10 years ago (February 2009)
- The Brumbies have not won a Super Rugby game on New Zealand soil since beating the Hurricanes 29-21 in March 2014, losing their last 12 games across the Tasman Sea.
- The Crusaders were defeated 20-12 by the NSW Waratahs in their last game against Australian opposition and will be looking to avoid consecutive regular season defeats to Australian clubs in the same year for the first time since March 1997.
- Five of the last six Super Rugby meetings between the Crusaders and Brumbies have seen the home team on the day cross for the opening try of the game.
- Crusaders’ George Bridge has averaged over nine metres per carry (9.2) in Super Rugby this season, the best rate of any player to make 30+ carries.
Prediction: Crusaders will be far to good for struggling Brumbies, Saders by 23
Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Leicester Faingaanuku.
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Lealiifano (c), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Pete Samu, 5 Murray Douglas, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Vunipola Fifita, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Jahrome Brown, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Andy Muirhead.