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Leigh Halfpenny named for Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific debut

By Ben Smith
Leigh Halfpenny of Crusaders walks the pitch before the international rugby friendly match between Munster and Crusaders at SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Welsh international Leigh Halfpenny has been named for his Super Rugby Pacific debut with the Crusaders against the Queensland Reds.

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After suffering an injury in the pre-season tour of Europe, Halfpenny has returned and will start at fullback alongside Johnny McNicholl, who moves from 15 to the right wing, and Sevu Reece who has been named on the left wing.

Elesewhere in the backs, All Black utility back David Havili has been named at first five-eighth in partnership with halfback Mitchell Drummond, while the strong midfield pairing of Dallas McLeod and Levi Aumua has been retained.

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On the bench is young halves pairing Rivez Reihana and Noah Hotham, while Chay Fihaki will cover the outside backs as utility cover.

Up front the Crusaders have named a strong pack with a power-filled loose forward trio with last week’s two-try hero Christian Lio-Willie at No 8, Ethan Blackadder at openside, and Cullen Grace on the blind. Corey Kellow is the loose forward reserve.

Scott Barrett once again captains the side in the second row along side Quinten Strange, with young Jamie Hannah named on the bench.

The front row contains two All Blacks, with props George Bower and Fletcher Newell, and hooker Brodie McAlister. Two more All Black veterans, Joe Moody and Owen Franks, fill the front row reserves with George Bell.

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The Crusaders are looking to build on the 39-0 win over the Rebels with back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

They have not lost to the Queensland Reds since the 2011 Super Rugby final in Brisbane, and have won nine of their last 10 at home in Christchurch.

Despite coming close against the Blues, the Reds are having a lean run with one win from their last five games.

Crusaders team to play Reds:

1. George Bower
2. Brodie McAlister
3. Fletcher Newell
4. Scott Barrett (c)
5. Quinten Strange
6. Cullen Grace
7. Ethan Blackadder
8. Christian Lio-Willie
9. Mitchell Drummond
10. David Havili (vc)
11. Sevu Reece
12. Dallas McLeod
13. Levi Aumua
14. Johnny McNicholl
15. Leigh Halfpenny

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Reserves

16. George Bell
17. Joe Moody
18. Owen Franks
19. Jamie Hannah
20. Corey Kellow
21. Noah Hotham
22. Rivez Reihana
23. Chay Fihaki

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