Super Rugby: Crusaders add All Blacks centre Jack Goodhue to powerful team to play Hurricanes

2019-02-21 03:17:47

Scott Robertson certainly isn't messing around.

Despite all the talk of All Blacks rest weeks and managing the minutes of his frontline representatives, the Crusaders' head coach has refrained from pulling his guns from the team to play the Hurricanes at Christchurch Stadium on Saturday night.

Judging by the team he's named for their home-opener, Robertson and his coaching staff clearly don't believe a New Zealand derby, which doubles as a rematch of last year's semifinal at the same ground, is the time to address New Zealand Rugby's demands regarding All Blacks.

While captain Sam Whitelock, No 8 Kieran Read, and hooker Codie Taylor remain on extended leave, Robertson has added more firepower to the side which eked out a 24-22 win against the Blues in Auckland last week.

All Black Jack Goodhue, having overcome his groin strain, has replaced impressive Braydon Ennor at centre and will start alongside second-five eighth Ryan Crotty in the only change to the starting side.

Ennor, who last season showed he's an attacking threat on the wing, replaces 20-year-old Will Jordan on the bench.

The only other change to the 23 is an injury enforced one at loosehead prop. Harry Allan, who earned two caps last year, replaces the injured Tim Perry on the bench.

Perry busted his left-arm seven minutes after coming off the bench against the Blues and underwent surgery on Thursday. A timeframe for his return will be clearer in a few days, assistant coach Brad Mooar said.

Despite Ennor repeatedly carving the Blues open in Goodhue's absence last week, the Crusaders weren't tempted to keep the centre many believe will don the black No 13 jersey at the World Cup later this year on the sideline.

"It can be a bit tough on Braydon, but he's a young man and he's set his stool out there with a fantastic performance," Mooar said.

"They will work together throughout the year. Nobody is going to play every game and they will bring the best out of each other. It's a great position to be in."

While the Crusaders continue to miss the trio of aforementioned ABs on extended leave, the Hurricanes are dealing with their own challenges.

There will be no head-to-head between All Blacks pivots Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett, who missed the Hurricanes' round one win against the Waratahs, and won't play against the Crusaders as the Hurricanes juggle the All Blacks' return to play protocols.

In addition to All Blacks being forced to sit out two mandatory games, they are limited to 180 minutes across the first three games, and should not play in five consecutive fixtures during the season.

Hurricanes loose forward Ardie Savea is also sitting out the game, while midfielder Ngani Laumape and halfback TJ Perenara will come off the bench. Hooker Dane Coles will start his first Super Rugby game since 2017.

The Crusaders were not surprised to see Christchurch Boys' High School product Fletcher Smith, rather than Barrett, named to start at first-five eighth when Hurricanes coach John Plumtree named his team on Thursday.

"It doesn't change a lot because we've prepared on the basis that he [Barrett] wasn't going to be playing. In terms of our plan, that's for us to show on Saturday night," Mooar said.

"I don't think the game changes too much around wanting to have possession, position and pace and making sure we take our opportunities. We think we've got a good plan together and it will be up to the boys to execute."

In addition to beating the Hurricanes 24-13 at home during the regular season last year, the red and blacks thumped the Wellington-based side 30-12 in a home semifinal last July.

AT A GLANCE Crusaders: David Havili, Manasa Mataele, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Matt Todd (captain), Jordan Taufua, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Harry Allan, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Braydon Ennor.

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Ben Lam, Fletcher Smith, Finlay Christie, Gareth Evans, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Liam Mitchell, James Blackwell, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles (captain), Chris Eves. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Xavier Numia, Ben May, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Sam Henwood, TJ Perenara, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ngani Laumape.

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