True to their word the Crusaders coaching staff has opted to rest a number of key players for their Super 14 Round 11 encounter with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that the heavy workloads carried by a core of the Crusaders forward pack this season means that Kieran Read and Jason Macdonald won’t start – with Read on the bench and Macdonald getting a break altogether.
Veteran fullback Leon MacDonald also gets a rest from the starting XV and will join Read on the bench.
Other who were listed this week of being in need of a break – Thomas Waldrom, Wyatt Crockett and Brad Thorn – will front up to the unpredictable Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Assistant coach Daryl Gibson acknowledged that player managed was important in the final run-in to the play-offs.
“Obviously, that is something that we are very aware of,” Gibson said from the team’s base in Cape Town.
“Those guys have had a massive workload, particularly with the amount of injuries we have had this year,” Gibson said.
“We are also mindful we cannot make too many changes.”
The good news is that inside centre Ryan Crotty has been cleared, despite bursting an eardrum in the win against the Sharks last weekend, and has been named in the No.12 jersey.
Scrumhalf Andy Ellis, who carried a rib injury into the Sharks match, will also start on the bench.
Crusaders: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Colin Slade, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Ross Filipo, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Jason Macdonald, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Daniel Perrin, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Isaac Ross, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Leon MacDonald.