AMI Stadium, Christchurch, Saturday 5.35pm (AEST) Last meeting:Crusaders 42 bt Hurricanes 14 at Westpac Stadium Head-to-head: Played 21 Crusaders 15 Hurricanes 4 drawn 2 In Christchurch: Played 11 Crusaders 8 Hurricanes 2 drawn 1 Referee: Bryce Lawrence (NZL)
Greg Growden writes: The Crusaders are suddenly omitting key players, and you have to wonder whether the big, ominous shadow of new All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is hovering all over this. So an upset is hovering. The Hurricanes are good outside chances.
AAP writes: As strong and as competitive as the Hurricanes have been over the years, they have regularly been bullied by the Crusaders. If there was ever a time to turn the tables, it’s now for the Wellingtonians. The ‘Canes have a bye and a clash with the Chiefs to follow so a loss here would mean curtains for the competition surprise-packets. They are helped by the fact the Crusaders will be without All Blacks trio Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Israel Dagg. But the visitors have been dealt a heavy injury blow themselves with TJ Perenara out for the rest of the season, Victor Vito out and Cory Jane still unavailable.
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CRUSADERS: Sean Maitland, Adam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford, Tom Taylor, Andy Ellis, Richie McCaw (c), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Ben Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Owen Franks, Tom Donnelly/Ross Kennedy, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Tyler Bleyendaal, Patrick Osborne.
HURRICANES: Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (c), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Chris Eaton, Brad Shields, Jack Lam/Karl Lowe, Faifili Levave, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Dane Coles, Reg Goodes. Reserves: Motu Matu'u, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Karl Lowe/Mark Reddish, Frae Wilson, Tusi Pisi, Jayden Hayward.