Super Rugby Aotearoa

Crusaders welcome back All Blacks prop as Super Rugby Aotearoa title beckons

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Joe Moody looks on during a Crusaders training session in Christchurch on 5 August 2020.
Joe Moody looks on during a Crusaders training session in Christchurch on 5 August 2020.
Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has welcomed back a number of players ahead of their final home game of the season against the Highlanders in Christchurch on Sunday.

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It will be a sold out crowd at Orangetheory Stadium, with the Crusaders knowing that a victory will clinch the Super Rugby Aotearoa title.

All Blacks prop Joe Moody returns to the starting side this week, having missed last week’s win over the Chiefs Hamilton due to a family bereavement, while vice-captain Whetukamokamo Douglas and centre Braydon Ennor have come through training to make their respective returns from injury.

Douglas' return at No 8 sees Tom Sanders move back to the blindside, and Sione Havili takes a spot on the bench. The promotion of lock Quinten Strange to the starting side is the only other change in the forward pack, with Luke Romano providing cover on the bench and Mitch Dunshea rested for this game.

Ennor's inclusion in the midfield is one of only two changes in the backline, with Bryn Hall and Mitch Drummond rotating so that Hall starts at scrumhalf and Drummond providing impact off the bench.
A win against the Highlanders on Sunday means the Crusaders can't be overtaken at the top of the standings, but Robertson said the team's approach to their final two games will be the same as it has been for every game so far this season.

"We know what a win on Sunday means for us, but we still have two games to prepare for, and they’re going to be incredibly tough," Robertson told the Crusaders' official website. "Our focus over these next two games will be the same as it has been for the last six - all about consistency and putting together performances we can be proud of against the Highlanders and the Blues.

"It's really important we acknowledge our home fans, so we’ll take some time to connect with them after the game on Sunday and thank them for their immense support this season. It's awesome to have another full house for this game against the Highlanders, and we're determined to make them proud."

Kick-off is at 05:35 (SA time).

Teams:

Crusaders

15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Leicester Fainga’anuku

Highlanders

15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Jeff Thwaites, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone

Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Ngane Punivai, 23 Jesse Parete