Thursday, April 17, 2008

Crusaders call in some star power

Duncan Johnstone,
April 16, 2008 - 12:24PM

The big boys - and the bad boys - are back in the Crusaders lineup for their testing trip to Hamilton to play the Chiefs with Robbie Deans naming a powerful lineup for Friday night's big New Zealand Super 14 derby. Deans made four personnel and seven positional changes from his second-string side who beat the Lions 31-6 in Christchurch last weekend.

Stephen Brett, who got 10 minutes off the bench against the Lions, will take over at first five-eighth as he makes his first start in a month due to a shoulder injury. Brad Thorn is over his calf niggle to be back in the second row and skipper Richie McCaw reclaims the No 7 jersey after a rare rest last week.

Lock Ross Filipo, wing Kade Poki and halfback Kahn Fotuali'i have all been returned to the 22.
Filipo is set for his first taste of action this year after being sidelined following neck surgery.
With All Blacks coach Graham Henry highlighting his locking concerns Filipo has everything to play for over the business end of the championship as the Crusaders look to continue their eight-match unbeaten streak.

"It's been a while, and Ross has had to be patient, but he's ready to go and we need to get him started," Deans said in announcing his team on the Crusaders' website.

Poki and Fotuali'i are back in favour on the bench after being stood down last weekend for disciplinary reasons after missing a training session.
All Black Leon MacDonald wasn't considered as he continues to be bothered by a thigh muscle tear from the win over the Hurricanes on March 28.
Deans is wary of the resurgent Chiefs who upset the Crusaders last year when they were in similar form over the second half of the championship.

"They have some dangerous strike players and the ability to score tries from anywhere on the park, especially from turnover, so concentration, discipline and accuracy is going to be vital," said Deans."They're confident, they're playing well and they'll have a big crowd behind them. It will be critical that we match the level of enthusiasm they bring to the contest."

CRUSADERS: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Caleb Ralph, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Andrew Ellis, 8 Mose Tuiali'i, 7 Richard McCaw (c), 6 Kieran Read, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks. Reserves: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ross Filipo, 19 Nasi Manu, 20 Kahn Fotuali'i, 21 Hamish Gard, 22 Kade Poki.

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