The Crusaders have named a powerful starting lineup for the much anticipated inaugural Super Rugby Pacific final against the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.
Coach Scott Robertson would have been relieved at the news of rampant Argentine Pablo Matera being cleared to play after two yellow cards in the semi-final against the Chiefs had the back-row sent off.
Adding to the Matera news is the injury return of All Blacks Sam Whitelock, Codie Taylor and David Havili, making for a blockbuster Crusaders line-up for the showpiece game between the competition’s two best teams.
Robertson is grateful for the eight-day turnaround after playing their semi-final on Friday last week, allowing an extra day for recovery.
“Post game on Saturday morning there was a good, long email from the medical group around the casualty ward, but the extra day has been superb for us,” Robertson told Stuff
“We have freshened up, those guys have trained well all week. They are back to as well as we would hope.”
There is quality across the park for the All Black-laden Crusaders side, with quality players such as Braydon Ennor and George Bridge unlucky to be left out of the starting side.
Captain Scott Barrett understands the disappointment, but the focus remains on claiming the silverware against a talented Blues outfit.
“Both those boys have been disappointed,” Barrett said.
“We stopped training to go and watch the live announcement [on Monday]. You could see the disappointment. Naturally, as teammates, you get around them and quickly support them.
“They’re obviously gutted. Bridgy has been there a few years, and Braydon has been in and out…but they quickly changed their focus to this weekend and what’s required there.”
Robertson has thrown his support behind the referee selection of Ben O’Keefe for the blockbuster clash.
“Ben is a Test match referee. Knows both teams really well. We know he will be consistent on Saturday night, and that’s all we can ask for,” Robertson said.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (c), 3 Oli Jager, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Mitch Drummond, 22 Braydon Ennor, 23 George Bridge
Date: Saturday, 18 June
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:05 local (08:05 BST, 07:05 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Stu Curran (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
READ MORE: All Blacks: John Plumtree backing Dane Coles to come good against Ireland
The article Super Rugby Pacific: Crusaders name blockbuster line-up for the Blues final appeared first on Planetrugby.com.