Crusaders

Jack back, Carter out

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All Black Chris Jack returns, but Daniel Carter is out of the Crusaders side that has been named today to play the Chiefs in Friday’s Super 14 match at Jade Stadium.

Jack is back after not having appeared since he sustained a hamstring strain during the Crusaders win over the Waratahs in Sydney on March 31.

He is one of four changes to the starting XV from last weekend’s loss to the Brumbies in Canberra, with fellow internationals winger Rico Gear and halfback Andrew Ellis also returning to the starting line-up alongside fly-half Stephen Brett.

Brett stands in for Carter, as he did during the Crusaders’ win over the Waratahs in Sydney, after the All Black injured his shoulder in Canberra.

“It’s another great opportunity for Steve and he’s looking forward to it,” Crusaders coach Robbie Deans says.

There are two further changes to the Crusaders’ match day squad on the run on reserves bench, which has a two-back, five-forward split this week.

Scrum-half Kevin Senio is out, after sustaining a thigh injury against the Brumbies. His place has been taken by Kahn Fotuali’i.

If Fotuali’i features, the 24-year-old will become the 120th player, and just the ninth scrum-half, to have appeared for the Crusaders in a Super 14 match. He will also be the 11th new Crusader this season.

Rua Tipoki has also been named on the bench after missing last weekend’s trip to Canberra, while lock Michael Paterson has been named as a fifth forward substitute to make room for Jack’s return to the starting XV.

“We’ve gone for the additional forward cover on the bench this week as a precaution,” Crusaders assistant coach Mark Hammett says.

“Chris [Jack] hasn’t had a lot of rugby, and will be coming back off a five week break because of injury, so we have to plan around him not perhaps lasting the full game.”

Jack made his return with the other conditioning All Blacks against the Stormers at Jade Stadium on March 24 but then sustained his injury in the early moments of the Crusaders match in Sydney a week later and hasn’t played since.

“He’s come along well with his rehabilitation and the medical advice is that he is ready to go again,” Hammett says.

“That’s why it is important to get him started because he will only benefit with every bit of rugby that he plays.”

There is a wide range of qualifying permutations surrounding a number of teams heading into the final round before the competition semi-finals, but Hammett says the Crusaders are ignoring those as the team prepares for the Chiefs.

“The only thing we can control is how we prepare and play, so that is all we will be focusing on,” Hammett says.

The Crusaders have 41 points on the competition ladder, and a healthy point’s differential (of plus 153), which leaves them well placed to both advance to the semi-finals and secure home advantage for that fixture.

“Ultimately everything comes down to actions and reactions and those are the two factors we can control, both as a team, and as individuals,” Hammett says.

“There were areas of our performance last weekend that we weren’t entirely happy with and we will be working on those.”

Hammett added the Crusaders will need to, given that the Chiefs head south both with their semi-final aspirations still in their own hands, and also flush with the confidence that four consecutive wins provide.

While the North Island side hasn’t beaten the Crusaders since 1998, they hadn’t won against the Waratahs in Sydney since 1997 and broke that run last Friday night by recording a come-from-behind 28-23 win.

“The Chiefs are playing very well and will be a huge threat all over the park,” Hammett says.

Crusaders: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Andrew Ellis, 8 Mose Tuiali’i, 7 Richard McCaw (c), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Ben May, 18 Michael Paterson, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Kahn Fotuali’i, 21 Rua Tipoki, 22 Johnny Leo’o

Date: Friday 4 May
Venue: Jade Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19.35 (7.35 GMT)
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand) Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Assessor: Alan Riley

 

365 Digital

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