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Fergus Burke returns for Crusaders in must-win clash with Brumbies

By Ned Lester
(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

The Crusaders have welcomed back first five-eighth Fergus Burke for their crucial round 13 clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.

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The 24-year-old has been named to start in the No. 10 jersey in his season debut from an Achilles injury and will be partnered by young halfback Noah Hotham in the starting XV.

Outside Burke, a new-look combination of David Havili and 21-year-old centre Jone Rova make up the midfield. Sevu Reece, Chay Fihaki and Johnny McNicholl form the outside backs.

In the forwards, All Black Joe Moody is set for a return to the starting side and will be joined by fellow All Blacks Fletcher Newell and Codie Taylor, who retains the captaincy as Scott Barrett remains sidelined.

Barrett’s absence also makes way for last week’s debutant, Antonio Shalfoon to start at lock alongside Quinten Strange.

Ethan Blackadder remains sidelined with a thigh injury, allowing Tom Christie to make his return to the starting XV in his familiar No. 7 jersey. Christie is joined by Cullen Grace and Christian Lio-Willie in the loose forwards.

With the reigning champions sitting 11th with just three rounds remaining until the playoffs, beating the third-placed Brumbies is a must to keep their season alive.

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Three competition points separate the Crusaders and the eighth-place Fijian Drua on the table. Following this week’s slate, the Cantabrians face the Blues and Moana Pasifika to round out the season.

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Crusaders team to face Brumbies

  1. Joe Moody
  2. Codie Taylor (c)
  3. Fletcher Newell
  4. Antonio Shalfoon
  5. Quinten Strange
  6. Cullen Grace
  7. Tom Christie
  8. Christian Lio-Willie
  9. Noah Hotham
  10. Fergus Burke
  11. Sevu Reece
  12. David Havili
  13. Jone Rova
  14. Chay Fihaki
  15. Johnny McNicholl

RESERVES

16. George Bell
17. George Bower
18. Seb Calder
19. Jamie Hannah
20. Dom Gardiner
21. Mitch Drummond
22. Rivez Reihana
23. Macca Springer

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J
Jon 59 minutes ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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