Carter returns, Jack sidelined

There are four changes to the Crusaders starting line-up to tackle the Force on Saturday.

Dan Carter returns after missing out due to a neck injury, whilst Chris Jack has been ruled out for up to six weeks after straining a hamstring tendon against the Waratahs last weekend.

Winger Caleb Ralph and scrum-half Andrew Ellis also return to the backs, in the places of Scott Hamilton and Kevin Senio respectively, while Michael Paterson is promoted from the bench to the second row for the injured Jack.

Stephen Brett makes way for Carter.

“While we’ve had to make a few changes, we’ve still been able to enjoy a fair bit of continuity, with all but Dan Carter having been involved in the match day 22 last week,” Crusaders coach Robbie Deans says.

“And he was involved in most of the preparation for that match anyway, until we had to pull him out through injury, so we are benefiting from a bit of consistency in terms of having the core of the group involved.

“What the changes simply illustrate is the competition we have for places each week, and that’s not a bad situation to be in.”

This is best highlighted by the situation immediately behind the scrum, where scrum-halves Ellis and Senio have been rotated in the position over each of the last four weeks.

“The competition is definitely bringing out the best in both of them and that’s a very good thing for the team as a whole,” Deans notes.

The Force, who have been based in Christchurch since the weekend, are the best performed of the Australian contingent this year, arriving in New Zealand on the back of three consecutive wins, including last Friday’s gritty 22-12 win over the Sharks.

John Mitchell’s team also bring strong road form with them, having won both of their matches in South Africa earlier in the competition, while also drawing with the Waratahs in Sydney.

“They’ve done exceedingly well, and have grown in confidence with every week that the competition has progressed,” Deans says.

“Mitch recruited astutely in the off-season and has got his team playing accurately and with purpose. They will be a major challenge.”

The two teams drew at their only previous Super 14 meeting, 23-23 at Subiaco Oval in Perth last year.

Crusaders: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Caleb Ralph, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andrew Ellis, 8 Mose Tuiali’i, 7 Richard McCaw (c), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Kieran Read, 19 Johnny Leo’o, 20 Kevin Senio, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Scott Hamilton

Date: 7 April 2007
Venue: Jade Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19.35 (7.35 GMT)
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Touch judges: Deon van Blommestein, Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)
Television match official: Josh Noonan (New Zealand)
Assessor: Kim Eichmann (New Zealand), Brendan McCormick (Australia)


365 Digital

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