Crusaders itching to redeem themselves against hungry Sharks

2010-02-25 00:00

ABRASIVE All Black lock Brad Thorn has been rushed back into the Crusaders team to face the Sharks in Christchurch tomorrow, while national captain Richie McCaw will play off the bench.

Thorn and All Black prop Wyatt Crockett will be making their first Super 14 start for the Crusaders this season. McCaw has been summoned two weeks early, following the team’s heavy defeat by the Reds in Brisbane at the weekend.

Thorn and McCaw had been rested by coach Todd Blackadder following their heavy international campaign last year, but a combination of injury and defeat has caused a change in plan.

Thorn replaces Test lock Isaac Ross, who injured his left ankle at training on Monday, and Crockett takes the place of Owen Franks, another All Black. Loosehead prop Crockett’s season has started late because of a pre-season ankle injury.

Blackadder was determined to give McCaw an extended sabbatical, but a lack of discipline shown against the Reds has resulted in the All Black captain being included in the 22. The coach has made four changes to the team who lost 20-41 to the Reds, as well as a positional change, with Jared Payne moving from the right wing to replace Colin Slade at fullback.

Sean Maitland plays his first game on the wing while Ryan Crotty, over the concussion he suffered in a pre-season match, dislodges Tim Bateman at inside centre.

Blackadder said the Crusaders respect the Sharks’ strengths, adding that they represent even more of a threat after having lost their two opening two matches at home.

“They’ll be desperate. Both teams will be desperate, which makes for a good, feisty encounter. We know that the boys from Durban will be big units and good operators in the set pieces. They’ll be tough, but, in truth, there are no easy games in the Super 14.”

Crusaders flyhalf Dan Carter told reporters that he cannot remember a worse showing by the team than the one they produced against the Reds. “There will be no repeat,” he promised.

“We are an extremely proud side and we have really high standards . We’re still confident in ourselves and will look to turn things around against the Sharks.”

The Sharks are hoping that continuity in selection and an unchanged backline will reap rewards.

England Test flyhalf Andy Goode, who is on the bench for the Sharks, is excited about the prospect of playing Super 14 rugby.

“I never thought I would see the day,” Goode told reporters. “What an amazing opportunity for a northern hemisphere player.”

The match, which kicks off at 8.35 am tomorrow, will be refereed by New Zealand’s Chris Pollock.

Crusaders team

15 Jared Payne, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 George Whitelock, 6 Kieran Read (c), 5 Brad Thorn, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Ti’i Paulo, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Joe Wheeler, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Kahn Fotuali’i, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Colin Slade.

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