With the Crusaders and the Hurricanes in no position to do anything by halves tomorrow, the last thing they needed was bad news at No 9.

Piri Weepu shook up the Hurricanes camp yesterday when he hobbled out of training after a knock to the ankle. Out came the editing pen on the team sheet, and Weepu and Tyson Keats were bracketed at halfback.

That news came after the Crusaders stood down Kahn Fotuali'i, arguably the form New Zealand halfback of the competition.

He had ignored an alcohol directive on the night of their loss to the Bulls at the weekend. Although the offence was described as minor, coach Todd Blackadder's refusal to compromise on team standards, despite the importance of tomorrow's match, means the inexperienced Willi Heinz will take his place on the bench behind All Black Andy Ellis.

Ellis looks to be regaining form after a slow start, exacerbated by concussions suffered against the Blues in round four and the Hurricanes in round eight.

Fellow All Black Weepu's form is also on a sharp upward curve and his goalkicking was a boon to the Hurricanes after the erratic form off the tee of first five-eighths Aaron Cruden.

Weepu was having tests yesterday to determine the extent of his ankle injury before the Hurricanes leave for Sydney today.

"He should be okay ... but I haven't sat down with the medicos yet," coach Colin Cooper said after practice. "If he isn't we'll start obviously with Tyson Keats and we're pretty lucky to have a player of that ability."

For all Keats' qualities, an in-form Weepu is a class act whose all-round game is difficult to duplicate. Last week his tactical acumen was instrumental in leading the Hurricanes back from a big deficit.

It was a far cry from his alarming dip of form in mid-competition, when the talk was that he would need to brush up on his French.

"It's a pleasure to see him back," Cooper said of his form, rather than his contract status. "He had some personal issues going on that we had to work through with him and get him back into top shape."

Cooper was forced to leave out impressive blindside flanker Victor Vito for the second week running. He trained yesterday but Cooper said they could not risk him.

"There was a temptation to pick him but he's not quite ready and it's not fair to him or the team to push him forward."

Michael Paterson will get another start in the No 6 jersey. Conrad Smith is back at centre in place of Jason Kawau, who was bracketed with Willie Ripia on the bench after taking a head knock against the Reds.

In the other change to the starting lineup, loosehead prop John Schwalger returns in place of Jacob Ellison.

Blackadder has made two changes to the team who lost 35-40 to the Bulls in Pretoria. Wyatt Crockett has lost his front-row place to Owen Franks and rookie Sam Whitelock has replaced veteran Chris Jack at lock.


Colin Slade
Sean Maitland
Robbie Fruean
Daniel Bowden
Zac Guildford
Dan Carter
Andy Ellis
Kieran Read
Richie McCaw (c)
George Whitelock
Sam Whitelock
Brad Thorn
Owen Franks
Ti'i Paulo
Ben Franks


Julian Huxley
Pat McCabe
Tyrone Smith
Matt Giteau
Adam Ashley-Cooper
Matt Toomua
Josh Valentine
Stephen Hoiles (c)
George Smith
Rocky Elsom
Mark Chisholm
Mitchell Chapman
Salesi Ma'afu
Stephen Moore
Ben Alexander

Crusaders reserves: Daniel Perrin, Wyatt Crockett, Chris Jack, Thomas Waldrom, Willi Heinz, Tim Bateman, Jared Payne.
Brumbies reserves: Huia Edmonds, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Ben Hand, Colby Faingaa, Patrick Phibbs, Brackin Karauria-Henry, Andrew Smith.


Kurtley Beale
Lachie Turner
Rob Horne
Tom Carter
Drew Mitchell
Berrick Barnes
Luke Burgess
Ben Mowen
Phil Waugh (c)
Pat McCutcheon
Kane Douglas
Dean Mumm
Al Baxter
Tatafu Polota-Nau
Dan Palmer


Cory Jane
Tamati Ellison
Conrad Smith
Ma'a Nonu
Hosea Gear
Aaron Cruden
P. Weepu/T. Keats
Rodney So'oialo
Karl Lowe
Michael Paterson
Jeremy Thrush
Bryn Evans
Neemia Tialata
Andrew Hore (c)
John Schwalger

Waratahs reserves: Damien Fitzpatrick, Jeremy Tilse, Chris Thomson, Dave Dennis, Josh Holmes, Daniel Halangahu, Rory Sidey.
Hurricanes reserves: Dane Coles, Jacob Ellison, Nick Crosswell, Scott Waldrom, Keats/tbc, Jason Kawau/Willie Ripia, David Smith.