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Crusaders bolster side with two internationals for Hurricanes clash

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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The Crusaders have made only two changes to their starting lineup ahead of their Super Rugby Pacific clash with the Hurricanes at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.

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Following their tense 17-14 South Island derby win over the Highlanders last Friday, head coach Scott Robertson has opted to bring two international players into his run-on side.

One of those changes comes in the loose forwards, where Los Pumas star Pablo Matera is promoted from the bench and into the No 6 jersey in place of All Blacks flanker Ethan Blackadder, who takes the place of the benched Tom Christie at No 7.

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The other change comes in the backline, where star midfielder Leicester Fainga’anuku is benched and replaced at centre by four-test All Blacks utility back Braydon Ennor.

Christie and Fainga’anuku aren’t the only newbies in the reserves, as former Highlanders hooker Ricky Jackson is primed to make his Crusaders debut after also being named on the bench.

After having trained with the Christchurch-based franchise as injury cover, Jackson has been included in Robertson’s match day squad due to the unavailabilities of Brodie McAlister (calf) and Shilo Klein (suspension).

The 23-year-old Otago hooker, who was part of the Highlanders between 2019 and 2021, has just one Super Rugby appearance to his name, making his debut off the bench in a loss to the Rebels in Melbourne three years ago.

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Victory over the Hurricanes will see the Crusaders overtake the second-placed Reds, who have a bye this week, on the Super Rugby Pacific table.

A win coupled with a Brumbies loss to the Fijian Drua on Saturday would lift the Crusaders to top spot on the standings, but the Canberra-based side are heavily favoured to beat their Pacific Island counterparts in Brisbane.

Kick-off for Saturday’s clash between the Crusaders and Hurricanes is scheduled for 7:05pm.

Crusaders team to play Hurricanes

1. Joe Moody
2. Codie Taylor (vc)
3. Fletcher Newell
4. Scott Barrett (c)
5. Quinten Strange
6. Pablo Matera
7. Ethan Blackadder
8. Cullen Grace
9. Mitchell Drummond
10. Richie Mo’unga
11. George Bridge
12. David Havili (vc)
13. Braydon Ennor
14. Sevu Reece
15. Will Jordan

Reserves

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16. Ricky Jackson
17. George Bower
18. Tamaiti Williams
19. Zach Gallagher
20. Tom Christie
21. Bryn Hall
22. Fergus Burke
23. Leicester Fainga’anuku

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