Rugby: Crotty named on bench for revamped Crusaders

Ryan Crotty has yet to feature for the Crusaders this season. Photo / Getty
Ryan Crotty has yet to feature for the Crusaders this season. Photo / Getty

With a week to rest and coming off a pleasing victory, Todd Blackadder could have been forgiven for naming a settled side for Saturday's clash with the Kings at AMI Stadium.

But the Crusaders coach has instead opted for exactly the opposite, making no fewer than nine changes to his run-on XV to play the Super Rugby strugglers.

The Crusaders enjoyed an early bye after their 28-13 win over the Blues earlier in the month, but rather than looking at the past when picking his team, Blackadder has cast an eye on the future.

Five points are virtually guaranteed on Saturday night. Even without accounting for South African sides' woeful historic record in Christchurch, the Kings have suffered two thumpings in South Africa and could be the worst team in the competition.

Next week, however, the challenge will be much tougher, with a two-match trip to the Republic to encounter the Sharks and the Lions, teams who both currently sit inside the top six on the overall standings.

So it's no surprise Blackadder has kept in reserve some of his key cavalry, omitting All Blacks forwards Kieran Read, Codie Taylor and Joe Moody from the matchday 23.

While youngster Jimmy Tupou will replace Read at the back of the scrum, there is hardly much experience lost in the front row, with Wyatt Crockett and Ben Funnell handed their first starts of the season and joining Owen Franks in the front row.

Lock Luke Romano and openside flanker Matt Todd will also be running out for the first time this year, having replaced Scott Barrett and Tim Boys to complete five changes in the forward pack.

In the backs, Marty McKenzie will make his maiden start for the Crusaders at fullback and Mitchell Drummond takes the No 9 jersey ahead of Andy Ellis for the first time, but the most high-profile new face will be arriving from the bench.

Ryan Crotty has yet to enjoy any rugby this season after needing surgery on his thumb following an accident at home in January, but the All Black will come off the bench against the Kings and aim to add another dynamic option to a backline often too reliant on Nemani Nadolo.

The hulking wing is one of only two backs to retain their jerseys from the Blues win - alongside first five Richie Mo'unga - with Kieron Fonotia and David Havili both switching positions in a revamped midfield.

Crusaders team to play the Kings at AMI Stadium this Saturday night:
Marty McKenzie, Johnny McNicholl, Kieron Fonotia, David Havili, Nemani Nadolo, Richie Mo'unga, Mitchell Drummond, Jimmy Tupou, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Samuel Whitelock (c), Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett.

Reserves: Ged Robinson, Alex Hodgman, Mike Alaalatoa, Tim Boys, Pete Samu, Leon Fukofuka, Ryan Crotty, Jone Macilai.

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 08 Dec 2016 06:17:20 Processing Time: 530ms