The Crusaders have named their side to take on Moana Pasifika in Round 7 of Super Rugby Pacific 2023 at Christchurch’s Orangetheory Stadium.
Friday 7 April will be Richie Mo’unga’s 100th game for the franchise – a huge achievement for a man at the peak of his talent. The world-leading first-five is relishing playing the milestone match at home in Christchurch at the stadium he debuted at versus the Chiefs in Round 1 of the 2016 season.
“Ever since I walked through these doors at Rugby Park and saw how celebrated centurions are, it was pretty clear I wanted to be one myself,” Mo’unga said.
Round 7 signals a return to play for a fair few players previously sidelined by injury. Quinten Strange returns at 4, Macca Springer is back on the wing and Jack Goodhue resumes his spot in the centre. Both Finlay Brewis and David Havili are ready to make an impact off the bench.
“Yeah, it’s awesome to have those guys back,” said Scott Robertson, Crusaders Head Coach.
Despite Moana Pasifika’s unfavourable start to the season, Robertson said there was no room for complacency.
“Moana are power athletes and when they get it right, they’re dangerous. Tamati Ellison has been really clear about what we need to achieve defensively, so we’ll be showing them the respect they deserve by preparing well,” he said.
Alongside Quentin Strange, Dom Gardiner returns as lock a week after scoring his first-ever Super Rugby try against the Reds last week.
Wil Gualter earns his first start, with Corey Kellow – playing his second season – earning his first start for the franchise. Fergus Burke remains strong in fullback.
Another debutant is set to make his mark with Melani Nanai named in a Crusaders squad for the first time.