Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crusaders without Dagg, Read against Canes GREG FORD 28/06/2012

Crusaders No8 Kieran Read and Israel Dagg have been officially invalided out of Saturday's Super Rugby game against the Hurricanes.
Coach Todd Blackadder erred on the side of caution late last night when he named his match day 22 resting Read – concussed in the second test against Ireland – and Dagg (ankle sprain) who was bullish about his chances of playing.
Instead of electing to promote Luke Whitelock, a member of the All Blacks training squad last month, Blackadder decided Richie McCaw will pack down at No8 as he did for the All Blacks on Saturday, which allows Matt Todd to slot into the loose mix with George Whitelock on the other flank.
The move is hardly surprising, but nonetheless intriguing.
Earlier this week Blackadder said McCaw "would eventually" evolve into a No8 and hard on the heels of those comments McCaw stressed his shift to No8 was temporary, he prefers to play on the openside flank, but will play in the best interests of the team.
The latest positional shift, more accident than design, thus adds to speculation McCaw's medium term future is with a six or eight on his back.
The rest of Blackadder's team was as per foreshadowed earlier this week.
Luke Romano and Sam Whitelock, who played impressively together for the All Blacks in Hamilton on Saturday, resume their burgeoning partnership with locking duo Tom Donnelly bracketed with Ross Kennedy on the bench.
Sean Maitland has been recalled into the starting XV and will fill Dagg's boots while Tom Taylor will deputise for Dan Carter who is still struggling with his torn hamstring.
Taylor will handle the kicking duties and Tyler Bleyendaal provide cover from the bench.
Adam Whitelock will have the unenviable task of marking Julian Savea who was named on the left wing last night by Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett.
As expected All Blacks duo Cory Jane and Victor Vito were declared unfit to play for the Hurricanes, meaning the team with superior depth will have the edge.
In yesteryear that would have been without hesitation the Crusaders. However, the Hurricanes (45) loom just six points behind the Crusaders (51) on the competition ladder and while Blackadder was left with the relative luxury of being able to leave Owen Franks on the bench opting to start with the all-All Blacks frontrow of Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn and Ben Franks, Hammett has inserted Brad Shields, another All Blacks training squad member from his talent pool in place of Vito in an otherwise strong lineup; the exception being at halfback where journeyman Chris Eaton has been named to play in place of the dynamic TJ Perenara who is injured.
Tickets are still available for the match. The temporary grandstand for the Ireland test is still in place meaning capacity at AMI Stadium is for now over 20,000.

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