Super Rugby: Crusaders v Hurricanes preview
Last Updated: 27/03/14 2:56pm
Crusaders will be fresh after a bye week for their clash with the Hurricanes in the opening match of round seven of the Super Rugby season.
The game at AMI Stadium sees two teams desperate for points go toe-to-toe, with the hosts eager to build on their away triumph over the Rebels last time out.
Todd Blackadder has made just one alteration from the side that came out on top in Melbourne; Tim Perry is nursing a hamstring strain, so loosehead prop Daniel Lienert-Brown has been called in to take a seat on the bench.
Kieran Read captains the Crusaders on what will be a landmark outing for the New Zealand international, as he brings up his century of appearances for the franchise.
"This is my team," Read told the club's official website. "I have been playing for the Crusaders virtually since my professional rugby career began and I feel very proud to have represented this team for 100 games.
"When you look at the other players who have achieved 100 games for the Crusaders, you realise what an honour it is.
"Being selected for an award is one thing, but being selected for the Crusaders team 100 times is a real reflection of the hard work I've put in over the years and something I can feel truly proud of."
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have managed to score 91 points in their previous two matches, albeit with 31 of those coming in a losing cause last time out.
Centre Tim Bateman returns to their starting XV after being sidelined with a knee injury for six weeks, partnering captain Conrad Smith in the visiting midfield.
Andre Taylor gets the nod to start at full-back with Cory Jane unavailable for selection due to an ankle injury.
Number eight Blade Thomson is back to anchor a pack that sees lock James Broadhurst retain his place after a strong performance in the 35-31 loss to the Highlanders a week ago.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Kieran Fonotia, 23 Nemani Nadolo.
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Chris Eves, 18 John Schwalger, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Marty Banks.
Super Rugby 2014 Round 7
The Sharks extended their lead at the Super Rugby summit with a 32-10 victory over an undisciplined Waratahs side.
The Bulls held champions Chiefs to a 34-34 draw in a thrilling Super Rugby affair at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Queensland Reds held off a late surge from the Stormers to claim a 22-17 victory at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.