Crusaders coach Robbie Deans has made seven changes to his side for what he expects to be a tight Super 14 battle against New South Wales.
No.8 Mose Tuiali’i, flanker Kieran Read, lock Ali Williams, prop Greg Somerville and hooker Corey Flynn return to the forward pack after being rested from the side that defeated the Cheetahs 55-7 last weekend.
Foxsport reports that they replace Nasi Manu, Michael Paterson, Wyatt Crockett and Ti’i Paulo, who have all been listed among the reserves.
Injury to the talented Stephen Brett allowed 21-year-old Tim Bateman to slip into the inside centre role while winger Kade Poki returns after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Deans acknowledged the sixth-placed Waratahs, who beat the Crusaders 24-14 in a pre-season game, would be a big step up from the Cheetahs.
“Last weekend was a good performance against the Cheetahs, but on Friday night we’ll be playing a side that will offer more diversity in attack and compete with us for the full 80 minutes,” he said.
“The recent history of our matches with the Waratahs shows the teams are always close. They’ll know that, and they’ll come over here full of belief after the start they have made to the season.”
Crusaders: 15. Scott Hamilton, 14. Kade Poki, 13. Casey Laulala, 12. Tim Bateman, 11. Caleb Ralph, 10. Daniel Carter, 9. Andrew Ellis, 8. Mose Tuiali’i, 7. Richard McCaw (Capt), 6. Kieran Read, 5. Ali Williams, 4. Brad Thorn, 3. Greg Somerville, 2. Corey Flynn, 1. Ben Franks.
Run on reserves: 16. Ti’i Paulo, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Michael Paterson, 19. Nasi Manu, 20. Kahn Fotuali’i, 21. Hamish Gard, 22. Sean Maitland.