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Crusaders

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CrusadersCrusaders coach Todd Blackadder wasted no time in bringing back All Black captain Richie McCaw for his team’s Super Rugby Round 7 encounter with the Vodacom Bulls.

The 7-time champion Crusaders start their South African tour against the 3-time champion Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

McCaw, who was rested last week as the Crusaders demolished the Cheetahs 57 / 14, replaces Matt Todd at openside flank – with the latter dropping down to the replacement bench.

In all Blackadder made 5 changes to his starting line-up for the trip to Loftus Versfeld.

Blackadder has made 2 rotations in the front row, with prop Joe Moody and hooker Ben Funnell coming in for All Black Wyatt Crockett and Codie Taylor respectively. Crockett and Taylor both drop to the bench.

Dan Carter, who last week started at inside centre, returns to his more customary role in the No 10 jersey.

Tom Taylor moves out one position to No 12 and Colin Slade will play off the bench.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

Prominent ex-Test referee Jonathan Kaplan has joined the chorus calling for scrutiny of the Crusaders scrumming action after their win over the Toyota Cheetahs last weekend.

The Crusaders scrum has dominated in their contests against both the Emirates Lions and Cheetahs in their 2 Vodacom Super Rugby games over the past fortnight, and in both cases it seems as if the scrum – and All Black prop Wyatt Crockett in particular – have gotten away with murder.

Crockett’s supposed dominance in the scrum has seen both Julian Redelinghuys and Coenie Oosthuizen, both Springbok props, being sin-binned during the game and a plethora of penalties given against their teams by referees who believe the tighthead can’t handle the pressure when the loosehead packs down.

But on a number of occasions – and ironically picked up by both former All Blacks Jeff Wilson and Justin Marshall – the scrum has never packed down straight.

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Super RugbyThe Emirates Lions won their 2nd tour match as the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks had to dig deep to win at home in an interesting 6th Round of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The men from Johannesburg weathered an early storm and clinched their 3rd successive win over the Melbourne Rebels, by 20 / 16, courtesy of a late try by Lionel Mapoe on Friday in Melbourne. With this victory, the Emirates Lions emulated their feats in 2007 and 2011, when they also won 2 tour matches.

On Saturday, the Toyota Cheetahs started well and were in front at the break against the Crusaders in Christchurch, but the home team took proper advantage of 2 second-half Yellow Cards against the visitors from Bloemfontein to win comfortably by 57 / 14.

2 Matches were played in South Africa on Saturday afternoon, both in less-than-perfect conditions.

First up, the Vodacom Bulls had to rely on a late penalty goal by Handré Pollard to pip the Force by 25 / 24 in Pretoria before the Cell C Sharks, playing for more than 50 minutes with 13 men against 14, following 3 Red Cards, had to dig deep to beat the Chiefs by 12 / 11 in Durban.

The DHL Stormers had a BYE.

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CrusadersTodd Blackadder has named his side to take on the Cheetahs this Saturday, making 4 changes to the starting line-up that beat the Lions last weekend.

In the forwards, hookers Codie Taylor and Ben Funnell will rotate so that Taylor starts at No 2.

Matt Todd, named captain for the season, returns to the team to play at No 7 this week – replacing All Black captain Richie McCaw.

However, Kieran Read retains the captaincy for this match.

In the backline, Israel Dagg returns from injury to take the fullback spot, while Kieron Fonotia moves onto the wing following Johnny McNicholl’s knee (posterior cruciate ligament) injury last week.

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Heinrich Brüssow

Heinrich Brüssow

Toyota Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has named his team to tackle the Crusaders in their Super Rugby clash in Christchurch on Saturday (kick-off 08:35 SA Time).

Heinrich Brussow will start at flank after impressing off the bench against the Sharks last weekend,.

Brussow is 1 of 4 newcomers to the starting team named on Wendesday.

The others are scrumhalf Tian Meyer, flyhalf Joe Pietersen and wing Clayton Blommetjies.

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Robbie Fruean

Robbie Fruean

Robbie Fruean’s Super Rugby campaign is almost certainly over folliwing surgery on Monday to have a steel plate inserted in his fractured arm after injuring it in his side’s loss to the Chiefs last weekend.

The timeframe for recovery from this type of injury is usually around 4 – 5 months, which would mean an early July return in a best-case scenario.

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder said the entire team was feeling for Robbie and sending him their best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor

Canterbury and Crusaders back, Tom Taylor, has announced he will move to France to play for the Bayonne Club at the end of this year.

Taylor says it’s been a tough decision to leave, but it is a great opportunity for him and he is looking forward to the next chapter of his career.

“I have absolutely loved my time here at Canterbury and the Crusaders, especially being a Christchurch boy.

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Owen Franks

Owen Franks

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC has accepted a guilty plea from Owen Franks of the Crusaders for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was cited following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Franks has been suspended from all forms of the game for 2 weeks up to and including 8 March 2015.

The incident occurred in the 10th minute of the match between the Highlanders and Crusaders played at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on 21 February 2015.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC assessed the case.

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Willi Heinz

Willi Heinz

Gloucester have added experience and quality to their scrumhalf ranks next season with the capture of Crusaders’ Willi Heinz.

The 28-year-old will join the current Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and the hugely promising Callum Braley as scrumhalf options for the Cherry and Whites from 2015 – 2016.

Heinz has captained Canterbury in the NPC, represented the Crusaders more than 50 times in Super Rugby, and gained huge popularity with the Canterbury supporters.

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Owen Franks

Owen Franks

Kane Hames

Kane Hames

Crusaders prop Owen Franks and his Highlanders counterpart Kane Hames were both cited for foul play after their teams’ clash in Dunedin on Saturday.

Both players are alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking.

Owens’ incident occurred in the 10th minute of the match while Hames’ incident took place in the 74th minute.

Upon further review of the match footage, the citing commissioner deemed in his opinion the incidents had met the Red Card threshold for foul play.

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Grant Jarrold

Grant Jarrold

Grant Jarrold has been elected the new Chairman of the Crusaders.

Jarrold said he was looking forward to stepping up to the role of Crusaders Chairman and continuing to contribute to the organisation.

“I am passionate about this team and have enjoyed being involved as a Board member since 2012.

“This is a Board, a team and an organisation full of quality, committed people, so it is an honour to assume the role of Chairman for the Crusaders,” Jarrold said.

Jarrold continued: “There are plenty of new opportunities for the Crusaders this season and in the future.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

All Black skipper Richie McCaw on Thursday dropped the strongest hint yet he will retire after this year’s World Cup in England and bring his glittering career to an end.

The 34-year-old captain of New Zealand, the reigning World Cup champions, admitted he was considering hanging up his boots, but was not yet ready to make a definitive announcement, preferring to focus on the ongoing Super Rugby season with the Crusaders.

“Honestly, I haven’t made any final decision, but probably the likelihood is I’m not going to be playing next year,” McCaw said at a Crusaders training session, in comments published on New Zealand Rugby’s official website.

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Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg will make his return to Super Rugby when the Crusaders take on the Highlanders this Saturday.

He is 1 of 5 changes to the starting line-up this week.

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has named Wyatt Crockett to start in the No 1 jersey this week, with Joe Moody and Nepo Laulala providing prop cover from the bench.

Scott Barrett will start at lock for the first time in Super Rugby, pairing up with Luke Romano and with Dominic Bird on the bench.

Colin Slade shifts from fullback to flyhalf, with Daniel Carter recovering from a knock to the leg in last week’s match, and Dagg steps in at No 15.

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Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg

Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Crusaders pivot Dan Carter is set to miss the Christchurch-based team’s clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.

Carter hurt his leg in his side’s 20 / 10 loss to the Melbourne Rebels last weekend and although Crusaders assistant coach Aaron Mauger believes the injury isn’t serious, he said it’s unlikely that the All Blacks flyhalf would be considered to play this weekend.

That means that Colin Slade is expected to start in the No 10 jeresey.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Details on Dan Carter’s leg injury are still fuzzy heading towards the Crusaders match against the Highlanders on Saturday.

The official line signalled some improvement when he was assessed by the medical staff and then involved in the squad’s light workout on Monday at their Christchurch headquarters.

During the Crusaders’ opening Super Rugby loss to the Rebels, Carter took a knock to his lower right leg which he then aggravated when he made a hasty clearing kick from his in-goal area.

The limping flyhalf stayed on for a further 15 minutes hoping the discomfort from his “dead leg” would ease. He had to be subbed and when he fronted for interviews later, Carter was optimistic there was no significant issue.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

All Blacks flyhalf Daniel Carter’s final Super Rugby season began with a rocky start as the 32-year-old suffered another leg injury in the Crusaders’ surprise 20 / 10 loss to the Melbourne Rebels on Friday.

Carter, who has also already said he will leave New Zealand rugby after the conclusion of this year’s World Cup to take up a three-year contract with France’s Racing Metro, allayed any early jitters about the All Blacks’ world title defence.

“I got a whack in the side of the leg, similar to a spot that I got it last year. It was just a knee and gave me a bit of a dead leg,” Carter told reporters. “I’m sure it’s nothing serious.”

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CrusadersThe Crusaders will open the 2015 Super Rugby season this Friday night when they host the Melbourne Rebels in Christchurch.

Richie McCaw will start for the Crusaders for the first time in 2015, in one of 3 changes that head coach Todd Blackadder has made to the starting line-up that played a warm-up game against the Reds in Brisbane last week.

The other changes are Joe Moody starting at No 1 and Ben Funnell at hooker.

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Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo

Crusaders winger Nemani Nadolo could be back in Super Rugby sooner than expected but he is unlikely to play in the Super Rugby opener against the Rebels in Christchurch on Friday.

Nadolo has completed his commitments with the NEC Green Rockets after they suffered a shock loss to Teikyo University in their All-Japan Championship knockout so he is free to return to the Crusaders.

The Fijian winger was joint top try scorer in 2014 – on 12 tries with the Waratahs’ Israel Folau – but despite his value he is unlikely to be rushed into action this week at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium.

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RedsThe Reds have named their team to play the Crusaders at Ballymore in what will be their final Super Rugby pre-season clash.

As revealed yesterday Reds recent recruit Karmichael Hunt will start at flyhalf in the match as the Queensland side look at ways of filling the gap created by Quade Cooper’s injury.

Reds head coach Richard Graham has announced a 23-man squad for the fixture, with a further three players to be added. In all Graham has made three changes to the starting team from last week’s match.

Hunt’s move to starting flyhalf has shifted 20-year-old Duncan Paia’aua to the reserves bench, Chris Feauai-Sautia has been brought into a starting wing spot and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi has moved to starting fullback.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Dan Carter will start the Crusaders’ last warm-up match ahead of potentially his final Super Rugby season against the Reds on Friday at flyhalf with team-mate Colin Slade switching to fullback.

The 32-year-old Carter, who will join French side Racing Metro at the conclusion of this year’s World Cup, had played mostly at inside centre last year when he returned to the Crusaders from a sabbatical to accommodate Slade’s good form.

The fact he will play in his preferred flyhalf position suggests he will get the nod from coach Todd Blackadder to start there for the Crusaders’ opening game against the Melbourne Rebels on 13 February in Christchurch.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Dan Carter has dismissed concerns about a calf strain and told the Crusaders coaches he wants to play the Super Rugby pre-season match against the Hurricanes in Eketahuna on Saturday.

Following the frustrations of last year, when he suffered a small fracture in his lower leg in the Super Rugby Final against the Waratahs and failed to reclaim his All Blacks flyhalf spot on the November tour of Chicago and Britain, Carter is eager to quickly get things going in World Cup year.

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