Super Rugby Pacific: Will Jordan to make long-awaited Crusaders return against Western Force

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Will Jordan Crusaders v Reds SRP 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Will Jordan Crusaders v Reds SRP 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

All Blacks utility back Will Jordan will make his long-awaited return to action for the Crusaders when they face the Western Force in Saturday’s Super Rugby Pacific clash in Christchurch.

The 25-year-old has been battling an ongoing migraine-related illness which has ruled him out of action since New Zealand’s last match of the 2022 Rugby Championship, against Australia in Auckland on September 24.

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Starting at back

He starts at full-back for the Crusaders against the Force and is joined in the back three by Leicester Fainga’anuku and Macca Springer, who are the starting wings.

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson is excited by Jordan‘s return and said it’s been “a big six months for Will”, and everyone was “just really pleased for him”.

“He’s got better and better and chose this game after having a couple of good training weeks,” added Robertson. “He’s ready to play the full 80 if needed.”

Meanwhile, Robertson has made several changes to his run-on side after last weekend’s loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Veteran lock Sam Whitelock is being rested as a precautionary measure after injuring his Achilles against the Chiefs, which means Quinten Strange comes into the starting line-up to pack down alongside captain Scott Barrett in the second-row.

Elsewhere, Noah Hotham comes into the matchday squad to start at scrum-half, while Mitchell Drummond will offer cover of the bench with Willi Heinz ruled out due to a calf strain.

Robertson said, “half-backs, like front-rowers, are hard to come by – it’s a specialist position”, and the Crusaders coaching staff have been impressed with the 19-year-old’s displays so far this season.

Brodie McAlister takes his spot as the starting hooker alongside Joe Moody and Tamaiti Williams, who are the starting props.

First start of the season

It will be McAlister’s first start in the 2023 campaign, which means All Black Codie Taylor drops down to the bench.

Amongst the replacements, Oli Jager continues as front-row cover after coming off the bench against the Chiefs last week to make his first appearance of the season. Zach Gallagher is also ready to make an appearance as second-row back-up.

Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Macca Springer, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Noah Hotham, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Dom Gardiner, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett (c), 3 Tamaiti Williams, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Seb Calder, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Christian Lio-Willie, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Jack Goodhue

Date: Saturday, May 6
Venue: Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 14:35 local (05:35 BST, 04:35 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Angus Mabey (New Zealand), Marcus Playle (New Zealand)
TMO: tbc

READ MORE: Anton Lienert-Brown: All Blacks centre back from injury to play 100th game for the Chiefs

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