The Crusaders have named their side to face the Waratahs in Round 14 of Super Rugby Pacific ’23.
It’s the team’s last home game of the regular season before we get into finals. Kick off is Saturday at 4.35pm.
Codie Taylor takes up captaincy with Scott Barrett making the most of a rest week before some big showdowns. He’s joined in the front row by Kershawl Sykes-Martin and Tamaiti Williams.
Sam Whitelock returns this week, itching to take the field after a few weeks sidelined by injury. Both Codie Taylor and Scott Robertson spoke on Thursday morning about looking forward to having his leadership and wisdom back on the grass.
The dynamic duo of Mitch Drummond and Richie Mo’unga return at halfback and first five, their routine well-polished by now.
Look for some antics and acrobatics from Leicester Fainga’anuku and Dallas McLeod on the left and right wings, and a safe pair of hands at the rear with Fergus Burke as fullback.
Reuben O’Neill is set to make his Crusaders debut off the bench this week, the current Taranaki and former Chiefs player bolstering the front row stocks. He’s slotted in well with the team during trainings, Robertson saying he was “familiar to us” and helped relieve the burden on a front row depleted by injury. Brodie McAlister and Seb Calder make up the rest of the replacement front row.
The Crusaders go into this one second on the table, the Waratahs in sixth. There’s no discounting an Aussie side still within reach of a home quarter if the cards fall right for them. Expect a big contest.