Rugby: Taylor and Slade back to bolster Canterbury for final

Tom Taylor. Photo / Getty Images
Tom Taylor. Photo / Getty Images

Backs Tom Taylor and Colin Slade return to bolster Canterbury for their ITM Cup final in Wellington on Saturday night.

Taylor returns from All Blacks duty to start at fullback, with first-five Slade returning to the reserves bench from a knee injury suffered in Canterbury's regular season defeat to Wellington.

The forward pack remains unchanged to that which laid the foundation for Canterbury's semifinal victory over Auckland in Christchurch last weekend. Hooker Marcel Cummings-Toone returns from a heel problem to a place on the bench.

Canterbury will need all the reinforcements they can get to beat Wellington and win their sixth title in a row. Wellington, who topped the regular season table, comfortably beat Counties-Manukau in their semifinal.

In Canterbury's favour is a strong bench including Slade, new All Blacks tourist lock Dominic Bird, big prop Paea Fa'anunu and halfback Willi Heinz.

Replacement loose forward Jordan Taufua has also been impressive.

"Wellington have been outstanding this season so there is no doubt they will be a big challenge on Saturday,'' coach Scott Robertson said. "It was a tough and close encounter last time we played. Finals create a great test of a team's character and we are looking forward to this challenge.

"Canterbury made history last year by becoming the first provincial team to win five titles in a row. That puts us in a position this year that no other team has ever been in - the chance to make it six out of six. We intend to fully honour that opportunity on Saturday night.''

Canterbury team to play Wellington in the ITM Cup Premiership final at Westpac Stadium on Saturday, kick-off 7.35pm is: Tom Taylor, Patrick Osborne, Adam Whitelock, Ryan Crotty, Johnny McNicholl, Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis, Nasi Manu, George Whitelock (c), Luke Whitelock, Luke Katene, Joel Everson, Nepo Laulala, Ben Funnell, Joe Moody. Reserves: Marcel Cummings-Toone, Paea Fa'anunu, Dominic Bird, Jordan Taufua, Willi Heinz, Rob Thompson, Colin Slade.

- APNZ

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