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Carter confirmed for Loftus Crusade

All Black Daniel Carter has returned to the Crusaders team that has been named today for Saturday’s Super 14 rugby semi-final against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

The 25-year-old is back after missing last weekend’s loss to the Chiefs due to a nerve strain in his shoulder.

Carter’s selection is one of four changes to the Crusaders match day squad from the Chiefs game, with halfback Kevin Senio also coming into the starting XV after missing the previous match due to a thigh injury.

His return sees Andrew Ellis go to the bench, which also includes prop Wyatt Crockett, who is back after missing the last two weeks due to a shoulder injury.

Stephen Brett is also on the bench, after deputizing for Carter last week, with coaches Robbie Deans and Mark Hammett opting for a five forward, two back split among the replacements.

The Crusaders have been training under sunny skies in Durban since Tuesday and will relocate to Pretoria on Friday.

Deans says the players have settled in well to their environment, are relaxed and are looking forward to the challenge of taking on the semi-final at the Bulls’ lair.

“Everyone is excited about the opportunity ahead of us on the weekend,” Deans says.

“These are the sorts of games that we are all involved in the sport to be a part of. The Bulls are a quality side who are playing well, but we are looking forward to the challenge of playing them in a semi-final at their place.”

The Crusaders have won three of the six matches played between the two teams at Loftus Versfeld, including last year’s contest, 35-17.

Seventeen of the Crusaders’ 22-man squad from that match are involved again in the semi-final, which repeats the semi-final played between the two teams last year. The Crusaders won the previous game in Christchurch, and have won nine of the 13 matches played between the two teams overall, which includes a 32-10 success at Jade Stadium during the preliminary stage of this year’s tournament.

Deans, however, is dismissive of the results that have gone before, including the match from earlier this year, saying that they now have no relevance.

“What’s happened before doesn’t matter. The competition starts again – there is no points table anymore. Saturday will be all about the team that fronts up the best for what is sure to be a great occasion amid a very passionate atmosphere at one of the great stadiums in world rugby.”

The magnitude of the task ahead of the Crusaders is perhaps best underlined by the Bulls record in 2007.

As well as winning five of their six home ties to gain a home semi-final for the first time, the Bulls have scored 24 tries in their last three matches, while conceding just three, and have advanced to the semi-final with major momentum on the back of last weekend’s record 92-3 drubbing of the Queensland Reds.

Crusaders: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Caleb Ralph, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Kevin Senio, 8 Mose Tuali’i, 7 Richard McCaw (c), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Ross Filipo, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Paterson, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Andrew Ellis, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Johnny Leo’o

Date: Saturday, 12 May
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.30 (15.30 GMT)
Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Touch judges: Paul Marks (Australia), Brett Bowden (Australia)
Television match official: Julian Pritchard (Australia)
Assessor: Tappe Henning (South Africa)

 

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