All Blacks give Crusaders Super boost

Jul 20, 2017 - 3:53 AM Five All Blacks have returned to the Crusaders' starting line-up for their Super Rugby quarter-final clash against the Highlanders in Christchurch on Saturday.

All Blacks Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks, rested following the three-Test Lions series, return to present a formidable starting front row.

Captain Sam Whitelock will start at lock after making his impact off the bench in the 31-22 loss to the Hurricanes.

Ryan Crotty is back from the hamstring injury which sidelined him for the last two Tests in the Lions series, and will slot in at inside centre.

David Havili, who wore the No.12 jersey against the Hurricanes, will be back at fullback with Israel Dagg returning to the right wing.

Coach Scott Robertson said the return of the experienced Crotty would be "huge" for the Crusaders.

"His ability to understand the game and make good calls, and defensively he's as sharp as you get, so he's a big part of our team and we welcome him back," he said.

With Dagg on the wing and Havili at fullback, Robertson said the Crusaders had a good balance in their back three.

"We've got a power wing in Seta, so we can expect a lot with an aerial attack and we can cover it with those players."

Taylor expected a tough and close contest, much like the last time the two sides met, on June 3.

"Every time we play them it's a nose to nose battle - we know each other well and it will be a physical one," he said.

The Crusaders were on the wrong end of a heavy penalty count last week against the Hurricanes, and Robertson said they'd taken some valuable lessons on board.

"We've got to be better in a lot of areas, (be) clear and obvious at the breakdown, and just trust our system a lot more than we have."

Crusaders: David Havili, Israel Dagg, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Seta Tamanivalu, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (captain), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, George Bridge.

Source: AAP

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