All the action as the Crusaders hosted the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby semifinal.
Wyatt Crockett dropped for Super Rugby semifinal, Joe Moody returns from injury
Veteran prop Wyatt Crockett has been dropped from the Crusaders' team to face the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby semifinal on Saturday.
Crockett makes way for All Black Joe Moody who comes straight back into the starting lineup after recovering from a knee injury he picked up earlier this month.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was delighted to have Moody back in the side, but admitted it was a tough call to leave out Crockett.
"Joe's come back after that knee injury and it was just something that took a couple of weeks to come right," Robertson said.
"He trained well last week and was nearly [ready to] play. So we gave him another week and he's good to go.
"Obviously Wyatt Crockett being named 202 times [for the Crusaders] and with Tim Perry probably playing his best game in the jersey last week, it was a tough call for us."
Crockett is the most capped player in Super Rugby history and earned his 200th appearance for the Crusaders against the Highlanders earlier this month.
Apart from Moody replacing Perry in the number one jersey, the Crusaders named the same starting 15 that overpowered the Sharks in the quarter-final last week.
Crusaders: 1 Joe Moody, 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Owen Franks, 4 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 6 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd (vc), 8 Kieran Read, 9 Bryn Hall, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 11 George Bridge, 12 Ryan Crotty (vc), 13 Jack Goodhue, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 15 David Havili
Reserves: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor
Jordie Barrett given unique chance to claim midfield role against Crusaders
Jordie Barrett is unlikely to get a better opportunity than he'll have on Saturday in his bid to prove himself as a first-choice Super Rugby centre.
Barrett played in the midfield during his time at Francis Douglas Memorial College in Taranaki, but since breaking into Super Rugby, the majority of his starts have come in the No15 jersey.
The 21-year-old will start in the midfield for the Hurricanes in their semifinal against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday night, with coach Chris Boyd giving him another run in the No13 jersey after an impressive performance against the Chiefs last week.
"Personally I think he's a better 15," Boyd said, "but he likes the midfield and he did enough for me last week to suggest that was the right way for us to start, I'm sure it won't be how we finish."
Barrett will likely be in for a battering at the defensive end against the Crusaders, who have shown their ability to attack through the middle of the park. In a physical match with their season on the line, Barrett gets a unique chance to stake his claim to the role full-time.
He'll line up alongside Ngani Laumape in the midfield, with Nehe Milner-Skudder remaining at fullback, and Ben Lam and Julian Savea taking up residence on the wings.
With the Crusaders proving their dominance on their home ground game after game, Boyd took a simplified approach to assess the task at hand.
"If they score 30, we need to score 31. I think it would be naive for us to think that we can keep all sides to zero every week – although we did in the playoffs in '16 which was a reasonable feat.
"It'll come down to opportunities I think."
The Hurricanes will line up with the same squad as last week, with Ardie Savea bracketed on the bench. If he is deemed unfit, which Boyd hinted was unlikely, Reed Prinsep would take his spot.
Hurricanes: Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Gareth Evans, Brad Shields (c), Sam Lousi, Michael Fatialofa, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Toby Smith.
Reserves: James O'Reilly, Chris Eves, Ben May, Vaea Fifita, Ardie Savea/Reed Prinsep, Jamie Booth, Ihaia West, Wes Goosen.