The New Zealand derby for the weekend should be an interesting one, with the Crusaders, the second best New Zealand team coming off a surprise loss against the Rebels and the worst ranked New Zealand team coming off a win over the Lions.
The Crusaders have made several changes to the team that lost to the Rebels, but some of those are injury enforced while the others are to bring the first choice players back in after resting them last weekend. The Crusaders need to win here to stay in touch with the Chiefs, who get the four bye points, while the Highlanders and Hurricanes can both pass them should they lose.
The Blues have very little left to play for this season, and I cannot see them really doing well against a Crusaders outfit with everything to play for. A bit of pride and because of a derby, we might see the Blues just running everything with nothing to lose, which might be sloppy as hell, or very entertaining.
Crusaders: 1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Corey Flynn, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. George Whitelock, 7. Matt Todd, 8. Richie McCaw (c), 9. Andy Ellis, 10. Dan Carter (vc) 11. Zac Guildford, 12. Ryan Crotty 13. Robbie Fruean 14. Adam Whitelock,15. Israel Dagg
Replacements : 16. Quentin MacDonald,17. Ben Franks,18. Tom Donnelly,19. Brendon O’Connor,20. WIlli Heinz,21. Tyler Bleyendaal,22. Tom Marshall
Blues: Hadleigh Parkes, David Raikuna, Ma’a Nonu, Michael Hobbs, Benson Stanley, Gareth Anscombe, Piri Weepu; Luke Braid (capt), Daniel Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams, Liaki Moli, Tevita Mailau, Tom McCartney, Tony Woodcock.
Replacements : James Parsons, Angus Ta’avao, Filo Paulo, Peter Saili, Alby Mathewson, Lachie Munro, Sherwin Stowers.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence
Assistant Ref 1:Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 2:Jonathon White
TMO : Vinny Munro