Ralph’s centre of attention

The champion Crusaders have picked Caleb Ralph at centre for their Vodacom Super 14 opener against the Highlanders in Christchurch on Saturday.

Ralph has played most of his recent rugby on the left wing in the Super 12 although he shifted back to centre in the midfield for Canterbury during parts of last year’s NPC.

Scott Hamilton has gained the No 11 jersey and the shuffle means All Blacks centre hopeful Casey Laulala is relegated to the subs bench.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders look to have the pace they have been missing in recent times by naming flying wings Roy Kinikinilau and Vilimoni Delasau in their starting XV.

With former All Black loosie Andrew Blowers sidelined with a head injury, Filipo Levi gets the job at No 8 and his presence there will increase the line-out options for the Highlanders who have James Ryan and Tom Donnelly as their locks.

Crusaders:

15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Caleb Ralph, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Kevin Senio, 8 Mose Tuiali’i, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Ross Filipo, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Greg Somerville.
Subs: 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Kevin O’Neill, 19 Johnny Leo’o, 20 Andrew Ellis, 21 Cameron McIntyre, 22 Casey Laulala.

Highlanders:

15 Ben Blair, 14 Vilimoni Delasau, 13 Neil Brew, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Roy Kinikinilau, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Filipo Levi, 7 Josh Blackie, 6 Craig Newby, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Anton Oliver (c), 1 Clarke Dermody.
Subs: 16 Jason Macdonald, 17 Nick White, 18 Hoani MacDonald, 19Hale T Pole, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Callum Bruce, 22 Richard Kahui.