Scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond will become the newest Crusader to notch up a century of caps with the team, when he runs out to face the Chiefs this weekend. He’s also been promoted to the starting side, as one of the 10 changes to the Crusaders First XV to face the Chiefs in Hamilton this Saturday.
The defending Super Rugby Aotearoa champions will field a new looking forward pack, starting with the front-row. All three starters who faced the Hurricanes have been replaced, with Joe Moody having been ruled out through injury, while both Codie Taylor and Oliver Jager have been moved to the bench.
They’ve been replaced by George Bower, Brodie McAlister and Irish-bound Michael Alaalatoa. It was announced earlier this week that Alaalatoa had signed for Leinster for the 2021/22 season.
While captain Scott Barrett may be the only forward to have held his place in the starting side, he has been shifted from lock to blindside flanker. Out of the 10 changes, he’s the one positional switch.
Mitchell Dunshea and Quinten Strange, two players who were involved with the All Blacks last year, are both set for their first starts of the 2021 season. Both players are highly rated, with the average of five RugbyPass writers’ rankings for Super Rugby second rowers seeing Dunshea ranked sixth while Strange was fifth.
The Chiefs have made four changes to their starting side for this weeks clash with the Crusaders, including moving Damian McKenzie. #SuperRugbyAotearoa #CHIvCRUhttps://t.co/21swPj9gzK— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 15, 2021
Partnering Barrett in the back row is Tom Sanders and Ethan Blackadder. Sanders will get his first opportunity to start this season, after playing his first game of the season off the bench against the Hurricanes.
As for Blackadder, he returns to the starting side for the first time since Round Six, but it’ll be his first opportunity to run out in the #8 jersey in Super Rugby Aotearoa this year. He’ll replace Cullen Grace at Number Eight.
There are just two changes to the backs, including the aforementioned switch at halfback.
In a statement released by the club, Scott Robertson described Drummond as “Mr. Consistent” for the Crusaders, as he congratulated the 27-year-old on the achievement.
“He’s got the best out of all his talent and he means a lot to this team,” Robertson said. “Growing up, wanting to be a Crusader and reaching this milestone, is pretty special for him and his family.”
The other change to the backline sees Leicester Fainga’anuku move into the starting line-up, in the place of the injured Jack Goodhue. Goodhue will likely miss the remainder of the 2021 rugby season, both for the Crusaders and All Blacks, due to an ACL injury he sustained early in the win over the Hurricanes.
Crusaders (1-15): George Bower, Brodie McAlister, Michael Alaalatoa, Mitchell Dunshea, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett (c), Tom Sanders, Ethan Blackadder, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo’unga, George Bridge, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan.
Reserves: Codie Taylor, Isileli Tu’ungafasi, Oliver Jager, Luke Romano, Sione Havili Talitui, Bryn Hall, Dallas McLeod, Manasa Mataele.
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