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Super Rugby Preview: Highlanders v Crusaders


Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has named his team for the South Island derby against the Crusaders in Dunedin on Saturday.

There are seven players set to make their Highlander debuts including props Josh Hohneck and Ross Geldenhuys and right wing Waisake Naholo in the starting line-up.

The other potential debutants are Ash Dixon, Mark Reddish, Dan Pryor and Marty Banks who are on the replacements bench.

As with last season the team will be co-captained by Nasi Manu and Ben Smith. Joseph has selected from a near fully fit squad with just Shane Christie (hamstring), Richard Buckman (knee) and Pingi Tala’apitaga (knee) unavailable due to injury.

Slade could spark Crusaders

The seven-time champions lived up to their reputation of being slow starters when they suffered a shock 20-10 loss to the Rebels in Christchurch last weekend, following three pre-season defeats.

Richie McCaw’s men will be desperate to bounce back with a win against a Highlanders team that will still be a bit rusty having had a bye in round one.

Injury-prone Crusaders flyhalf Dan Carter has failed to recover from a leg injury that saw him leave the field in the 73rd minute of last Friday’s match, which sees Slade shift from fullback to the No 10 jersey.

Carter was a shadow of his former self against the Rebels, and Slade might just be the man to control the game for the Crusaders and get their backline going.

In other changes to the starting lineup, Israel Dagg returns to fullback, Ryan Crotty replaces Tom Taylor at inside centre, lock Scott Barrett earns his first Super Rugby start ahead of Dominic Bird, and loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett replaces Joe Moody.

Meanwhile, 31-year-old South African tighthead prop Ross Geldenhuys will make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut for the Highlanders, having moved to New Zealand last year and played for Tasman in the NPC.

Seven players could make their debuts for the Highlanders, with loosehead prop Josh Hohneck and wing Waisake Naholo also starting, and Ash Dixon, Mark Reddish, Dan Pryor and Marty Banks on the bench.

The Highlanders will have co-captains again this season, with fullback Ben Smith and No 8 Nasi Manu calling the shots.

Last 10 Games played between the Highlanders and Crusaders
12-Jul-14 Crusaders 34 – 08 Highlanders
24-May-14 Highlanders 30 – 32 Crusaders
29-Jun-13 Highlanders 12 – 40 Crusaders
20-Apr-13 Crusaders 24 – 08 Highlanders
1-Jun-12 Crusaders 51 – 18 Highlanders
3-Mar-12 Highlanders 27 – 24 Crusaders
23-Apr-11 Crusaders 18 – 26 Highlanders
19-Mar-11 Highlanders 13 – 44 Crusaders
13-Feb-10 Crusaders 32 – 17 Highlanders
7-Mar-09 Highlanders 06 – 00 Crusaders
Overall Stats Highlanders Overall Stats Crusaders
Games Played 26 Games Played 26
*Games Won 8 *Games Won 18
*Games Lost 18 *Games Lost 8
Games Drawn 0 Games Drawn 0
*Longest.Winning.Streak 2 *Longest.Winning.Streak 7
*Longest Losing Streak 7 *Longest Losing Streak 2
*Largest Points For 37 *Largest Points For 51
*Largest Points Against 51 *Largest Points Against 37
*Largest.Winning.Margin 17 *Largest.Winning.Margin 35
*Largest Losing Margin -35 *Largest Losing Margin -17
*Total Points For 527 *Total Points For 769
*Avg Points For 20.27 *Avg Points For 29.58
*Total Points Against 769 *Total Points Against 527
*Avg Points Against 29.58 *Avg Points Against 20.27
*Total Points Difference -242 *Total Points Difference 242
*Avg Points Difference -9.31 *Avg Points Difference 9.31
* = By Highlanders * = By Crusaders

Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith (c), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (c), 7 John Hardie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Kane Hames, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Jason Emery, 23 Marty Banks.

Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Robbie Fruean, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Richie McCaw, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Codie Taylor, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Nafi Tuitavake.

Date: Saturday, February 21
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)




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