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Crusaders bring back big guns but bench rising superstar for Blues battle

By Online Editors
Crusaders stars Will Jordan, David Havili, Sevu Reece and Richie Mo'unga. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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The Crusaders are preparing to host the Blues on Saturday night in a top-of-the-table encounter at Orangetheory Stadium. Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has made few changes to the side that secured a bonus-point win against the Highlanders last weekend.

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Ethan Blackadder sustained a knee injury at training last week and was ruled out of the match in Dunedin. His replacements, Sione Havili and Tom Sanders, will rotate this week, with Sanders to start and Havili named on the bench. The rest of the forward pack is unchanged.

In the backs, Bryn Hall and Mitch Drummond provide a dynamic 1-2 combination at halfback, with Hall to start and Drummond named in the reserves. There is also a reshuffle in the outside backs, with Leicester Fainga’anuku replaced by George Bridge on the left wing, and Sevu Reece earning a start on the right wing. The in-form Will Jordan is set to provide impact off the bench.

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As a schoolboy, Damian McKenzie captained the Christs College 1st XV often against bigger schools. Against the powerhouse of Otago Boys in 2013, McKenzie left the commentators speechless.
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As a schoolboy, Damian McKenzie captained the Christs College 1st XV often against bigger schools. Against the powerhouse of Otago Boys in 2013, McKenzie left the commentators speechless.

Heading into the bye next week, the Crusaders have an opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the standings table in Super Rugby Aotearoa, while a Blues win on Saturday night would see them overtake the home side at the halfway point in the competition.

Crusaders: David Havili, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Tom Christie, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Dunshea, Sam Whitelock, Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor (c), Joe Moody. Reserves: Andrew Makalio, George Bower, Oli Jager, Quinten Strange, Sione Havili, Mitchell Drummond, Fetuli Paea, Will Jordan.

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