Big news for the boys in red and black this week – the return of some key players from injury and rest periods.
Sam Whitelock pulls on the No. 5 jersey again after being out with a hand injury since Round 3.
Cullen Grace returns to the team after being out with injury since Round 1
Scott Barrett takes the captaincy again after a period on the sideline to comply with All Blacks rest protocols.
David Havili takes a spot in the starting XV for the first time since he injured his shoulder against the Fijian Drua in Round 3.
Jack Goodhue left the field against Moana Pasifika in Round 7 after a head knock, but is back to full strength and ready to make an impact off the bench.
LAST TIME WE MET
We faced the Rebels in Round 10 of the ’22 competition. It was AAMI Park, it was April, we were 4th on the table, the Rebels 9th. (Current ’23 standings are Crusaders 4th, Rebels 10th)
The Crusaders scored six tries to the Rebels’ two, all converted to bring up a final score of 42-17.
Reece Hodge, the 63-cap Wallaby, comes up against Braydon Ennor in the centre. Hodge is one of two Rebels’ players who played the ‘19 Rugby World Cup, while Ennor will be eyeing up selection for the ’23 edition.
Similarly in fullback, Fergus Burke comes up against Andrew Kellaway who’s racked up 21 caps in the green and gold.
Macca Springer puts on the 11 jersey ready to face off against Monty Ioane, nephew of former-Crusader and Wallaby Digby Ioane. The 28-year-old Aussie cut his teeth in the European leagues, eventually playing 17 international caps for Italy.
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Time: Friday 21 April, 9.35pm (NZT)