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Crusaders name star-studded side to play Hurricanes

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Looking to maintain some momentum heading into the playoffs, the Crusaders have named a star-studded side to play the Hurricanes in their final match of the regular season.

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The Crusaders started their season with some uncharacteristically poor performances, including a loss to the Fijian Drua. But the title holders have turned their season around in a big way.

Currently second on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder, the Crusaders could even secure a spot in the top two with a losing bonus point on Saturday – not that they’ll be thinking that, though.

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Coach Scott Robertson has named an impressive line-up full of world-class talent, including veteran All Blacks Codie Taylor and Sam Whitelock in the forwards.

Whitelock will officially end his decorated rugby career in New Zealand year’s World Cup in France, with the veteran second-rower signing a deal with Top 14 club Pau.

Reflecting on his career at Super Rugby level in the famous red and black strip, Whitelock described his time as a Crusaders as a “very humbling” experience.

“When I first arrived here in rugby park in ’07, talking to some of the senior guys they said, ‘Look it’s going to go so quick, you’ll blind and you’ll be halfway through your career,’ and it’s exactly true,” Whitelock said.

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“It means the world. It’s something I never thought I’d ever achieve.

“I never thought I’d play one first-class game. Never thought I’d play for Canterbury or any of those things so to still be here now after all these years is very humbling.”

Tamaiti Williams starts at loosehead prop this week, and will pack down in the front row alongside Codie Taylor and veteran John Afoa.

Quinten Strange will combine with Whitelock in the second row, while captain Scott Barrett gets a start at blindside flanker.

Tom Christie gets the nod at openside, while Christian Lio-Willie will line up in the No. 8 jersey.

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All Blacks Mitchell Drummond and Richie Mo’unga will link up in the halves again this week, and look to provide quality ball to an exciting backline.

Jack Goodhue and Braydon Ennor will start in the midfield, while All Blacks Leicester Fainga’anuku and Will Jordan have been named in the outside backs.

Dallas McLeod is the final player in the run-on side, with the rising star set to start on the right wing.

But the Crusaders have named a potential debutant on the bench, with former Christchurch Boys High and Tasman Mako halfback Louie Chapman being named on the bench.

“He’s trained for a couple of years, he’s been awesome, an awesome pro,” coach Scott Robertson said in a statement.

“It’s a good story. He could have gone to MLR (Major League Rugby), he could have gone to another competition, but he wanted to be a Super Rugby player, he wanted to be a Crusader.

“He’s a local boy, this is his opportunity and he’s ready.”

The highly anticipated New Zealand blockbuster between the Crusaders and Hurricanes is set to get underway at 7.05pm at Wellington’s Sky Stadium on Saturday.

Crusaders team to take on Hurricanes

  1. Tamaiti Williams
  2. Codie Taylor
  3. John Afoa
  4. Quinten Strange
  5. Sam Whitelock
  6. Scott Barrett (c)
  7. Tom Christie
  8. Christian Lio-Willie
  9. Mitchell Drummond
  10. Richie Mo’unga
  11. Leicester Fainga’anuku
  12. Jack Goodhue (vc)
  13. Braydon Ennor
  14. Dallas McLeod
  15. Will Jordan

Replacements:

  1. Brodie McAlister
  2. Kershawl Sykes-Martin
  3. Reuben O’Neill
  4. Zach Gallagher
  5. Sione Havili Talitui
  6. Louie Chapman
  7. Fergus Burke
  8. Chay Fihaki
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