McLean Park, Napier, Friday 5.35pm (AEDT) Last meeting: Round 14 2011 - Crusaders 25 bt Chiefs 19 at McLean Park Head-to-head: Played 17 Crusaders 13Chiefs 4 In Napier: Played 1 Crusaders 1 Chiefs 0
Referee: Garratt Williamson (NZL)
Greg Growden writes: Crusaders winger Zac Guildford wants to make a good impression on his old home ground in his return from a four-match ban for a ‘‘booze-fuelled spree.’’ His family are coming from everywhere. Zac’s told them: ‘‘I’ll see how many [tickets] I can scab off the boys’."
AAP writes: It would usually be straightforward to tip the Crusaders in this home game but less certain this time. The Chiefs rolled the fancied Blues with some dazzling first-half tries last week and, under new management, may finally be ready to shed their maddening inconsistency. The slow-starting Crusaders were stung by derby rivals the Highlanders last week and are yet to regain kingpins Dan Carter and Richie McCaw. The clash of Chiefs centres Sonny Bill Williams and Richard Kahui against big Robbie Freuan and Adam Whitelock should be bruising but the Crusaders may just have the match-winning ace in fullback Israel Dagg behind what is a more formidable forward pack.
Crusaders: Sean Maitland, Israel Dagg, Robbie Fruean, Adam Whitelock, Zac Guildford, Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (capt), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Tom Donnelly, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Wyatt Crockett, Sam Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Tom Taylor, Tom Marshall.
Chiefs:Robbie Robinson, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Richard Kahui, Sonny Bill Williams, Tim Nanai-Williams, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Kane Thompson, Tanerau Latimer,Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke, Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Arizona Taumalolo.Reserves: Hika Elliot, Shane Cleaver, Mike Fitzgerald, Sam Cane, Augustine Pulu, Andrew Horrell, Jackson Willison