Concussion rules Crusaders' Kieran Read out

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 12:08 15/05/2014
Kieran Read
Getty
SIDELINED: Nearly a month after suffering a head knock, Kieran Read is still not ready to play for the Crusaders.

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Concussion has again forced Kieran Read out of the Crusaders.

The All Blacks No 8 has been left out of the Crusaders side to face the Super Rugby log leaders, the Sharks, in Christchurch on Saturday night. Luke Whitelock will again play at No 8.

Read has not played since a head knock forced him off the field in the Crusaders' 18-17 win over the Chiefs in Hamilton on April 19.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder made an early call to rest Read - as he did for the matches against the Reds and Brumbies - stating he was still struggling with symptoms caused by a high tackle from Chiefs lock Mike Fitzgerald.

"Kieran was still showing some really minor signs of concussion at the start of the week, and given that it's been a short week for us to prepare anyway due to a late flight back from Brisbane, we decided the sensible thing to do was to make the call early that he wouldn't be available,'' Blackadder said.

''He hasn't been able to fully participate in contact training for a little while so we're better off giving him more space and time to get back to 100 per cent.''

Ryan Crotty has again been named as captain, despite Richie McCaw being listed at openside flanker.

Blackadder has made a total of three changes to the starting side that belted the Reds 57-29 last week.

Israel Dagg, who has been troubled by a knee injury over the last month, has been replaced by Tom Taylor at fullback.

"Leaving Izzy out of the mix this week is purely preventative," Blackadder said.  

"We've been really happy with the way he's been playing, but there are some early signs of wear and tear and we just want to make sure that we manage that so that he can continue to play at his best."

Dominic Bird will partner up with Samuel Whitelock at lock after Luke Romano broke his ankle in Brisbane.

Halfbacks Willi Heinz and Andy Ellis have been rotated again. Heinz takes the starting spot for his 50th Crusaders appearance.

Crusaders: Tom Taylor, Johnny McNicholl, Rey Lee-Lo, Ryan Crotty (c), Nemani Nadolo, Colin Slade, Willi Heinz, Luke Whitelock, Richie McCaw, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock, Dominic Bird, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Tim Perry, Nepo Laulala, Jimmy Tupou, George Whitelock, Andy Ellis, Tyler Bleyendaal, Nafi Tuitavake.

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