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Crusaders rest key All Blacks for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash against Western Force

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

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The Crusaders will face the Western Force without All Blacks star Richie Mo’unga in this weekend’s Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash in Christchurch.

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Mo’unga is one of four players who started in last week’s 54-28 thumping of the Waratahs in Wollongong who have been benched or rested for this Friday’s match at Orangetheory Stadium.

In his place has come 21-year-old first-five Fergus Burke, who will start in his first-ever game for the Crusaders.

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Mo’unga, who has been the subject of plenty of attention in recent weeks due to his sterling performances in Super Rugby this season, will be joined on the sidelines by two other All Blacks, Sam Whitelock and Sevu Reece, who both started off the bench last week.

The changes have forced a reshuffle in the starting lineup, although the only change to the forward pack comes in the front row, where uncapped All Blacks loosehead prop George Bower has made way for Tamaiti Williams.

In the backline, Burke will be paired with halfback Bryn Hall, who comes into the No 9 jersey in place of one-time All Black Mitchell Drummond.

Three-test All Blacks utility back and Crusaders vice-captain David Havili will form a new-look midfield with one-test All Blacks centre Braydon Ennor, whose inclusion has pushed Leicester Fainga’anuku onto the left wing.

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As a result, exciting Fijian speedster Manasa Mataele has moved over to the right wing in place of his countryman Reece, while two-test All Blacks star Will Jordan remains at fullback.

Drummond and midfielder Dallas McLeod is the only two players from last week’s starting XV to feature on this week’s bench, making them two of six new faces in the reserves.

The others are loosehead prop Isileli Tuungafasi (younger brother of All Blacks prop Ofa), ex-All Blacks lock Luke Romano, injury returnee Tom Sanders, and Glasgow Warriors-bound outside back Josh McKay.

Kick-off for Friday’s clash is scheduled for 7:05pm local time [5:05pm AEST].

Crusaders team to play the Western Force

1. Tamaiti Williams
2. Codie Taylor (vc)
3. Michael Alaalatoa
4. Mitchell Dunshea
5. Scott Barrett (c)
6. Whetukamokamo Douglas
7. Sione Havili Talitui
8. Cullen Grace
9. Bryn Hall
10. Fergus Burke
11. Leicester Finaga’anuku
12. David Havili (vc)
13. Braydon Ennor
14. Manasa Mataele
15. Will Jordan

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Reserves:

16. Nathan Vella
17. Isileli Tuungafasi
18. Oliver Jager
19. Luke Romano
20. Tom Sanders
21. Mitchell Drummond
22. Dallas McLeod
23. Josh McKay

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Crusaders rest key All Blacks for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash against Western Force

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