Thursday, February 17, 2011

Matt Todd to fill Richie McCaw's jersey

Rising star Matt Todd has been handed the Crusaders' No 7 jersey for their season-opener against the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday night.

Coach Todd Blackadder has given the foraging duties to Todd while using the experienced George Whitelock at blindside.

It will be Todd's Super Rugby debut and a massive opportunity for the 22-year-old with Richie McCaw recovering from foot surgery.

Israel Dagg will play his first official game for the Crusaders since shifting from the Highlanders.
Dagg is at fullback after missing last week's final pre-season game against the Highlanders in Oamaru with a sore thigh.

Sean Maitland moves to the right wing, replacing Zac Guildford who pulled a hamstring in that match.
Adam Whitelock gets the second five-eighths position with Sonny Bill Williams one of eight players unavailable through injury.

That means three Whitelock brothers in the starting lineup with Sam in the second row.
The Crusaders boast 10 past or present All Blacks in their starting XV and another two on the bench.

Reserve lock Chris Jack will play his 99th game for the Crusaders if he takes the field.
Blackadder is aware of the pressures on the Crusaders to get off to a good start in demanding circumstances against their traditional rival.

"It's an exciting time and we're entering the unknown a little bit with the new format of the competition, but we are looking for a good performance against the Blues," Blackadder said.
"These derby matches are very important with the new conference system and I hear there will be a big crowd at Eden Park so the atmosphere should be superb."

Israel Dagg, Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean, Adam Whitelock, Tu Umaga-Marshall, Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett.

Reserves: Francis Smith, Ben Franks, Chris Jack, Jonathan Poff, Willi Heinz, Matt Berquist, Tom Marshall/Tyler Bleyendaal.

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