Deans rotates squad and names Carter on the bench



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Crusaders coach Robbie Deans has made five changes to the starting XV for the Crusaders trip to Brisbane to play the Queensland Reds on Saturday.

The most noteable change in the team however is on the bench where Dan Carter is named.

The Crusaders have the luxury of already secured a Semi-Final place so Deans has rotated the team. Halfback Kahn Fotuali’i, No 8 Mose Tuiali’i, lock Ross Filipo, hooker Ti’i Paulo and prop Wyatt Crockett have all been elevated into the starting line-up for the penultimate round.

Fotuali’i, who gains his sixth cap and second career start, has not featured for the Crusaders since coming off the bench during the 34-7 win over the NSW Waratahs on Good Friday.

Tuiali’i is reinstated to the back of the scrum, after starting from the bench during last Friday’s 18-10 win over the Sharks because of a disrupted build up to that game due to a minor lower back ailment. The powerful No 8 played the second half of the win over the Sharks.

Filipo makes his return to the run on side for the first time since last year’s semi-final loss at Pretoria. The 2007 All Black was the joint leading forward try-scorer in last year’s competition, but was forced to make a belated start to the 13th Crusade due to neck surgery. As a result, he has so far been restricted to two appearances off the bench during the campaign.

While Paulo and Crockett have been regular members of the match day squad, Saturday night will be just their third and fourth starts of the campaign respectively.

‘The changes are about keeping everyone fresh, but they are also rewarding some players who have been making a big contribution towards the team’s welfare and performance that hasn’t always been seen by the public, in terms of their involvement on the field,’ Crusaders coach Robbie Deans says on the Crusaders web site.

‘We are not for a second underestimating the Reds. Queensland has always been a hard opponent ‘ especially over there. The current side has been playing well too, without a lot of luck over recent weeks.’

Deans echoed the sentiments made public by Crusaders skipper Richie McCaw at the weekend, when McCaw said it was critical that the team continued to build momentum during the last two weeks of the round robin, after faltering at this stage of the last campaign.

Carter will be joined on the bench in Brisbane by starting regulars: hooker Corey Flynn, prop Ben Franks, lock Ali Williams and halfback Andrew Ellis; as well as loose forward George Whitelock, who steps in for Nasi Manu.

Deans says the 19-year-old Manu has earned a break, after starting last week against the Sharks, and featuring in all but the first game played by the Crusaders this year.

He said it as also an opportunity for Manu to reconnect with his Sydenham club and mates, while getting in a full game of rugby in the CBS Championship.

On Carter, Deans acknowledged that his match conditioning had been compromised by the month-long layoff.

He said it was important to get the player back involved, in order to advance his preparation for the weeks ahead.

‘Physically he’s ready to return but, by bringing him back via the bench, we’ll ease him back in slowly,’ Deans says.

‘Given that he’s been out of action for a month, and has only had two training sessions this week to get back into it with the team again, it’s important that we don’t load him up with too much too quickly.’

Crusaders team

15. Leon MacDonald,14. Kade Poki ,13. Casey Laulala ,12. Tim Bateman ,11. Sean Maitland ,10. Stephen Brett ,9. Kahn Fotuali’i ,8. Mose Tuiali’i ,7. Richard McCaw (captain) ,6. Kieran Read ,5. Ross Filipo ,4. Brad Thorn ,3. Greg Somerville ,2. Ti’i Paulo ,1. Wyatt Crockett

Run on reserves: 16. Corey Flynn ,17. Ben Franks ,18. Ali Williams ,19. George Whitelock ,20. Andrew Ellis ,21. Daniel Carter ,22. Caleb Ralph

Coaches: Robbie Deans, Mark Hammett
Manager: Tony Thorpe

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