Crusaders manager Scott Robertson has made three changes to his squad as Sam Whitelock plays his 350th first-class match in Saturday’s highly anticipated clash with the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Whitelock will pack in the second row alongside captain Scott Barrett, while replacement Quinten Strange is also set to hit a milestone as he is set to make his 50th appearance for the Crusaders if he takes the field.
It’s a momentous occasion for Whitelock as he joins Liam Messam, Wyatt Crockett, Keven Mealamu, Sir Colin Meads and Aaron Smith to reach the finish.
Bottom line changes
At the rear, Leicester’s Fainga’anuku is back in action to take over from Macca Springer on the left wing, while Dallas McLeod is a surprise selection on the right wing, replacing Pepesana Patafilo, who played there in last weekend’s win against Rebels at Melbourne.
“Dallas deserved it, didn’t he? If he deserved it. He’s tough and resilient in midfield, and when we brought in on the wing it was fantastic,” Robertson told the Crusaders official website.
“He’s good in the air, he’s a great defender, he’s trained well and we’re really happy for him.”
The latest change sees Cullen Grace back in the running at number eight in place of Christian Lio-Willie, relegated to the substitutes bench.
Meanwhile, prop Oli Jager is also set to return from the bench after a long spell on the sidelines with injury. Jager has been sidelined since injuring his neck during the latter stages of last year’s NPC and underwent an operation earlier this year.
“Oli is important to us, a great player on and off the pitch,” added Robertson.
“It’s important to have some depth with Fletcher [Newell] going early. He worked hard and for him to come back now, yes the timing is perfect.
The experienced duo continues in the halfbacks
In other team news, seasoned Richie Mo’unga and Mitchell Drummond continue as the halfback duo while Fergus Burke covers the back, while constants Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Tamaiti Williams are the starting front row.
Crusaders: 15 Fergus Burke, 14 Dallas McLeod, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Dom Gardiner, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (c), 3 Tamaiti Williams, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutions: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Finlay Brewis, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Christian Lio-Willie, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Jack Goodhue, 23 Macca Springer
Date: Saturday 29 April
Place: FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Kick off: 7.05pm local time (8.05am BST, 7.05am GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Dan Waenga (New Zealand), Mike Winter (New Zealand)
TMO: to be confirmed
TO KNOW MORE: Super Rugby Pacific Team Tracker: Aaron Smith returns to captain Highlanders against Waratahs
The article Crusaders: Sam Whitelock makes 350 against Chiefs as Leicester Fainga’anuku and Oli Jager recover from injury first appeared on Planetrugby.com.