Super Rugby Aotearoa

Crusaders bench exciting outside back Will Jordan for top-of-the-table Blues clash

Will Jordan of the Crusaders (Getty)
Will Jordan of the Crusaders (Getty)

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has made few changes to his side for Saturday's top-of-the-table Super Rugby Aotearoa clash against the Blues in Christchurch.

Kick-off is at 09:05 (SA time).

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Ethan Blackadder sustained a knee injury at training last week and was ruled out ahead of the 40-20 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin. His replacements, Sione Havili and Tom Sanders, will rotate this week, with Sanders to start and Havili named on the bench. The rest of the forward pack is unchanged.

In the backline, Bryn Hall and Mitch Drummond provide a dynamic 1-2 combination at scrumhalf, with Hall to start and Drummond named on the bench. There is also a reshuffle in the outside backs, with Leicester Faingaanuku replaced by George Bridge on the left wing, and All Black Sevu Reece earning a start on the right wing. The in-form Will Jordan is set to provide impact off the bench.

Robertson told New Zealand's Stuff website that it was a tough decision to bench Jordan, who had scored braces in wins over the Chiefs and Highlanders.

"It's obviously a hard decision. But when you've got two All Black wings and your vice-captain (fullback David Havili), who was probably player of Super Rugby before Covid-19 and he got sick (bowel surgery). We spent a lot of time on the decision-making and who would start. But the young fella will bring a lot off the bench."

Jordan has lit up the competition through the Crusaders’ opening three wins, wreaking havoc from both the fullback and wing positions.

The 22-year-old leads the competition in tries (4), clean breaks (9), defenders beaten (22) and metres gained (336).

Heading into a bye next week, the Crusaders have an opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the standings, while a Blues win would see them overtake the home side at the halfway point in the competition.

Teams:

Crusaders

15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Fetuli Paea, 23 Will Jordan

Blues

15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman

Substitutes: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Aaron Carroll, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 TJ Faiane, 23 Matt Duffie

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