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George Bell set to debut for the Crusaders in Perth

Several All Blacks return for the Crusaders this week and Head Coach Scott Robertson has signalled an opportunity for emerging young talent to step up, as he named his side to face the Western Force in Round 12 of DHL Super Rugby Pacific.

Robertson has made eight changes to the starting team to play the Force on Saturday, and 20-year-old hooker George Bell is in line for his Crusaders debut off the bench. 

Of the four changes in the forwards, Tamaiti Williams will start at loosehead prop and Ricky Jackson earns his first start for the club at hooker, in the absence of rested All Blacks George Bower and Codie Taylor. Meanwhile, Zach Gallagher has recovered from the shoulder injury that saw him withdraw from the Waratah's match, taking his place in the second row alongside Sam Whitelock. Ethan Blackadder will start at openside flanker. 

In the backline, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo'unga, Braydon Ennor and George Bridge all return for this game, with Ennor joining stand-in Captain David Havili in the midfield, and Bridge moving to the right wing. Both Jack Goodhue and Sevu Reece will take this week to refresh ahead of the Brumbies clash next week in Canberra. 

If called on to debut off the bench, Crusaders Academy player George Bell will become Crusader #265 in Perth, while prop Finlay Brewis will make his first appearance for the club since his Round Six debut, and Chay Fihaki will cover the outside backs in the 23 jersey. 


Kick off in the Crusaders match against the Western Force is 9:45pm NZT, Saturday 7th May at HBF Park in Perth. The match will be televised live on Sky Sport. 

Crusaders team to play the Western Force:

1.   Tamaiti Williams
2.   Ricky Jackson
3.   Oli Jager
4.   Zach Gallagher
5.   Sam Whitelock (VC)
6.   Pablo Matera
7.   Ethan Blackadder
8.   Cullen Grace
9.   Mitchell Drummond
10. Richie Mo'unga (VC)
11. Leicester Fainga'anuku
12. David Havili (C)
13. Braydon Ennor
14. George Bridge
15. Will Jordan

16. George Bell*
17. Finlay Brewis
18. Fletcher Newell
19. Dominic Gardiner
20. Sione Havili Talitui 
21. Bryn Hall
22. Fergus Burke
23. Chay Fihaki

*denotes Crusaders debut