Settled side for Read's Super Rugby century
Kieran Read has the comfort of entering his 100th Super Rugby match for the Crusaders with a settled lineup.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has kept the same starting side that beat the Rebels 25-19 in Melbourne for Friday night's Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes in Christchurch.
No 8 and captain Read, who made his Crusaders debut in the opening round of the 2007 championship against the Blues, will be eager to roll the Hurricanes for a number of reasons.
The most obvious is he will want to ensure the milestone is remembered for all the right reasons.
Despite being born and raised in Papakura, Blackadder maintained that was not an issue for Read who transferred to Canterbury from Hamilton in early 2005.
''He's really well valued and really well valued by the team and, of course, the wider community,'' Blackadder added. ''He's one of ours. He's red and black through and through.''
Blackadder also recognised Read's contribution to the franchise in terms of leadership and playing ability and believed he had the ability to play most positions.
''He could be a centre, he could play out in the backs. He's a big guy, he's dynamic and he's got an offload ... He's got a skill set that a lot of players don't have, he's a blockbuster, he can break open defences.
''And defensively he is a hard hitter, he creates a lot of impact every time he takes the field.''
From the team's perspective, however, there is the important issue of keeping in touch with the competition leaders by securing four vital points.
Then there is the subject of the upcoming tour of South Africa where the Crusaders will face the Lions and Cheetahs in Jo'burg and Bloemfontein respectively.
The last thing Read and Blackadder want is to be stewing on a loss when they fly out to the Republic on Saturday morning.
In their previous four matches - before they had the bye last weekend - the Crusaders coaches had a habit of tinkering with their backline as they searched for ways to make their attack sharper and more cohesive. Not any more.
Once again the biggest casualty is ex-Hurricanes midfielder Reynold Lee-Lo who can't make the match-day 23. Lee-Lo's arrival in Christchurch raised hopes he would add a different dimension to the Crusaders' backline play after Robbie Fruean left for the Chiefs but he has struggled with form and confidence.
Vice-captain Ryan Crotty again starts at centre and Tom Taylor has been listed at second five-eighth. Colin Slade starts his second consecutive game at first-five after being used at fullback earlier in the season.
Once again there is no room for All Blacks wing Zac Guildford. Johnny McNicholl and Nafi Tuitavake have been named on the wings and Nemani Nadolo and Kieron Fonotia provide outside back options from the bench.
A hamstring strain to Tim Perry and the delayed return of Joe Moody, who broke a leg in last year's NPC final, mean Daniel Lienert Brown has been added to the reserves as loosehead prop cover.
Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Nafi Tuitavake, Ryan Crotty, Tom Taylor, Johnny McNicholl, Colin Slade, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (c), Matt Todd, Luke Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Daniel Lienert Brown, Nepo Laulala, Dominic Bird, Jordan Taufua, Mitch Drummond, Kieron Fonotia, Nemani Nadolo.
Hurricanes: Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (c), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Chris Eves, John Schwalger, Mark Reddish, Ardie Savea, Billy Guyton, Matt Proctor, Marty Banks.
- Fairfax Media
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