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Jack Goodhue wins centre battle as Crusaders name strong side for quarter-final

By Tom Vinicombe
(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

The Crusaders will roll out a strong starting line-up boasting 12 internationals in their quarter-final clash with the Reds this weekend.

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Unsurprisingly, Codie Taylor and Richie Mo’unga have been reinstated to the run-on side after missing last weekend’s 28-15 win against the same opposition while Jack Goodhue – who has made just four appearances since last April due to an ACL injury – has won the battle with Braydon Ennor to wear the No 13 jersey.

In the front row, Taylor will combine with George Bower and Oli Jager after a minor rib injury kept the senior hooker out of last Friday’s encounter.

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It’s an all All Blacks affair in the second row with the experienced partnership of Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock teaming up for the fifth time in 2022 and the second week in a row while last Friday’s loose forward trio of Argentinian international Pablo Matera, and NZ representatives Ethan Blackadder and Cullen Grace has also been retained.

Bryn Hall will make a return in the No 9 jersey after withdrawing late from last weekend’s victory due to a back strain and will combine with Mo’unga in the halves.

In the midfield, Havili has retained his spot at second five-eighth – for his 12th start of the season – and will link up with Goodhue for the third time this year. Braydon Ennor will cover the midfield from the bench.

In-form outside backs Leicester Fainga’anuku, Sevu Reece – who has recovered from a head knock – and Will Jordan have all held their places from last weekend while George Bridge is set to add impact from the bench.

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All together, coach Scott Robertson has made just four changes to the starting line-up for this Friday’s fixture, with all four of those changes seeing experienced players return to the run-on side and take their regular positions in the team.

In the reserves, Finlay Brewis is joined by Brodie McAlister and Fletcher Newell as front-row cover while Zach Gallagher and Tom Christie will back-up the rest of the forwards. Mitchell Drummond, Ennor and Bridge round out the 23.

“Finals footy is a really special time, but it’s also a whole new level, so we’re going to have to step up if we want to earn ourselves another week in this competition,” Robertson said this week.

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“Both sides will have learnt a bit about one another last week, and it’s a pretty unique scenario to have back to back games against the same opposition. This is knock-out rugby though, and Queensland know what it’s like to play in these big games, so we’re taking nothing for granted with our preparation this week and we’re going to need our fans right behind us in the stands for this one.”

Friday’s night clash is due to kick off at 7:05pm NZT from Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch.

Crusaders: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Cullen Grace, Ethan Blackadder, Pablo Matera, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Oli Jager, Codie Taylor, George Bower. Reserves: Brodie McAlister, Finlay Brewis, Fletcher Newell, Zach Gallagher, Tom Christie, Mitchell Drummond, Braydon Ennor, George Bridge.

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