Dagg one of six Crusaders changes for Blues

The Crusaders have named a strong team to face the Blues at AMI Stadium in Christchurch with Kieran Read, Dan Carter, Israel Dagg and Nemani Nadolo all return to the starting line-up.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has made six changes to the starting team that lost 16-9 to the Hurricanes in Wellington last week.

In the forwards, Ben Funnell and Owen Franks have taken starting spots in place of Corey Flynn and Nepo Laulala, who will be ready to inject some energy off the bench.

Kieran Read’s return to number 8 means Luke Whitelock takes another of the reserve spots. Read will also captain the team.

Nemani Nadolo has returned from international duties in Fiji to take the left wing and Kieron Fonotia will start on the right wing.

Colin Slade retains the first five role and Dan Carter slots in at second five, while Ryan Crotty moves in one place to centre. Israel Dagg has recovered from injury to take the 15 jersey.

Carter will therefore have the task of containing his All Black team mate Ma’a Nonu.

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder says the team is fully aware of just how crucial this game is for their playoff hopes.

“Training this week has felt like the lead up to a final, ” said Blackadder.

“There was a huge amount of disappointment and frustration following last week’s loss, but we’ve had to push that aside and put our full focus on this next opportunity. “

“We know that the Blues are desperate for the win, but there is absolutely no lack of determination and desire amongst this squad so we can expect to see fireworks on Saturday night.

“We have the advantage of playing at home and we can’t wait to hear the roar of a Crusaders crowd at AMI Stadium again. ”

“That home crowd may just be the extra lift that makes the difference in what is going to be an epic battle, ” Blackadder said.


1. Wyatt Crockett ,2. Ben Funnell, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Dominic Bird ,5. Samuel Whitelock ,6. Jordan Taufua, 7. Matt Todd ,8. Kieran Read (C) ,9. Andy Ellis , 10.Colin Slade , 11.Nemani Nadolo , 12.Dan Carter ,13.Ryan Crotty (VC) ,14.Kieron Fonotia , 15.Israel Dagg

Replacements : 16. Corey Flynn, 17. Joe Moody, 18. Nepo Laulala, 19. Jimmy Tupou, 20. Luke Whitelock, 21. Willi Heinz, 22. Tom Taylor, 23. Johnny McNicholl

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