Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Super Rugby: Lee-Lo out as Crusaders search for fire on attack

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Another week, another backline casualty for a Crusaders team searching for attacking inspiration.

Centre Reynold Lee-Lo has paid the price this time as Todd Blackadder's team prepare to play the Rebels in Melbourne tomorrow night. Signalled by backs coach Aaron Mauger during the week, Lee-Lo's axing has come as no surprise and neither has the fact his team will field their third first-five in four games.

Colin Slade will direct a backline including midfielders Tom Taylor and Ryan Crotty at AAMI Park; Lee-Lo is left out of the squad altogether after the former Hurricanes player started in all three of the Crusaders' previous matches.

Taylor started at No 10 in the narrow win over the Stormers in Christchurch last weekend, but moved to fullback in the second half, with Slade running the show.

Slade's quicker feet gave the Crusaders slightly more time against a pressing Stormers' defence - and his ability to take a gap should ask more questions of the Rebels defence than Taylor, and before him, Tyler Bleyendaal, have been able to this season.

Crotty looked comfortable at centre for the Crusaders last year in the wake of Robbie Fruean's heart problem, and he played well there when coming on for the All Blacks late last year.

Whether he can provide the penetration the Crusaders have been lacking so far remains to be seen, but with three clean breaks and eight defenders beaten, Crotty has been by far his team's most elusive player.

Israel Dagg has been re-instated to fullback after playing on the left wing.

Another feature of the team is the naming of Fijian international Nemani Nadolo on the reserves bench.

The 125kg wing scored two tries for the Crusaders development team at the weekend after recovering from a knee injury on his arrival from Japan.

Ben Funnell starts at hooker, with Corey Flynn unavailable due to a fractured eye socket.

The Rebels have begun their season with a big win at home over the Cheetahs and a 32-7 defeat to the Force in Perth.

However, the Crusaders have struggled against them in recent seasons.

- APNZ

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