Crusaders retain winning lineup from semifinal

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 12:26 31/07/2014
Richie McCaw
JOSEPH JOHNSON/ Fairfax NZ
ALL BLACKS CAPTAIN: Richie McCaw will wear 6 for the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final.
Dan Carter
Getty Images
ALL BLACKS FIRST FIVE: Dan Carter will play at second five for the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final.

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Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has predictably made no changes for Saturday night's Super Rugby grand final against the Waratahs in Sydney.

Given the way his team dismantled the Sharks 38-6 in Christchurch last weekend there was always an expectation Blackadder would roll out the same side for the showdown at the Olympic Park's ANZ Stadium.

Before the semi at AMI Stadium in Christchurch, the selections of All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter in the less-familiar positions of blindside flanker and second five-eighth created some debate, but Blackadder's selections proved sound.

Once again he has enlisted Matt Todd at openside flanker and Colin Slade at first-five.

The Crusaders back row of captain and No 8 Kieran Read, Todd and McCaw provided multiple threats on attack against the Sharks with Read and Todd prominent with ball carries out wide.

Slade took on a slightly different role against the Sharks, at times dropping back to the right flank to de-fuse high kicks with his uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time to rise-up and grab the high ball.

Despite not being at his preferred No 10 spot, Carter's influence on the backline has been immense and Blackadder will expect the 100-test playmaker to again exert his influence in the grand final.

Blackadder said he had no concerns about the Crusaders being caught unawares because they hadn't met the Waratahs during the round-robin.

"There is an unknown element given that we haven't played the Waratahs so far this year, but that goes for both teams,'' Blackadder said.

"We are just focused on being as prepared as we can be to put in the best performance we're capable of.

"We know we have the game of our lives ahead of us but are not daunted by the challenge, we are looking forward to it. 

''We've got a group of men who want this badly and who have the talent to do it."

The Crusaders flew to Sydney yesterday and were based at the Olympic Park complex. They would have their final training today before staging a captain's run tomorrow.

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Kieron Fonotia, Ryan Crotty, Dan Carter, Nemani Nadolo, Colin Slade, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, Richie McCaw, Dominic Bird, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Nepo Laulala, Jimmy Tupou, Jordan Taufua, Willi Heinz, Tom Taylor, Johnny McNicholl.

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