All Blacks trio rejoin Crusaders

MATT MARKHAM
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2013

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The big guns are back for the Crusaders.

Three All Blacks have been ushered into the starting line-up for their final pre-season hit-out against the Waratahs tomorrow night.

Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock will all stretch their legs at Allianz Stadium in Sydney for the first time this year.

Both captain Read and Carter were allowed more time by Crusaders management to concentrate on pre-season training while Whitelock returns from a shoulder complaint which kept him from last weekend's loss to the Highlanders in Oamaru.

While a pre-season match means very little in the major scheme of things, a much improved showing will be high on coach Todd Blackadder's wishlist after the Crusaders had a far from perfect start in their two previous warmup matches.

Blackadder has also welcomed back two old hands into the fray this week with the experienced pairing of Corey Flynn and Tom Donnelly named on the bench.

Rookie players Johnny McNicholl and Ben Funnell both did enough last week against the Highlanders to encourage Blackadder to give them another shot to impress while Jordan Taufua, who also featured last week, isn't travelling with the side.

HOW THEY LINE UP

Crusaders: 15. Israel Dagg, 14. Adam Whitelock, 13. Robbie Fruean, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11, Johnny McNicholl, 10. Dan Carter, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Kieran Read, 7. Matt Todd, 6. George Whitelock, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Luke Romano, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Ben Funnell, 1. Wyatt Crockett.

Reserves: 16. Codie Taylor, 17. Joe Moody, 18. Dominic Bird, 19. Luke Whitelock, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Tom Taylor, 22. Tom Marshall, 23. Telusa Veianu, 24. Shane Christie, 25. Tom Donnelly, 26. Corey Flynn.

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- The Press

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