Laulala back for champs brings you the latest from New Zealand’s Super 14 franchises.

Laulala back for Saders

Centre Casey Laulala returns from a shoulder injury and is one of two changes to the Crusaders team to face the Stormers.

Laulala missed the past three weeks but before that was in devastating form with four tries from three matches. His return means Ryan Crotty drops to the bench with Tim Bateman shifting to inside centre.

Bateman is at this stage bracketed with Crotty for the No 12 berth due to a knee injury, but is expected to start.

‘It’s great to have Casey back, he’s a quality player,’ said coach Todd Blackadder. ‘In saying that though, Tim Bateman and Ryan Crotty worked very well together in the midfield against the Waratahs. They were spot on in terms of their attitude on defence and attack.’

The other change sees the Saders employing their third-choice opensider to counter the fetching abilities of the Stormers, as Richie McCaw and George Whitelock’s injuries gives Nasi Manu a start.

‘As for Nasi, he made a big impact when he came off the bench against the Waratahs and we’re sure that will continue into our next game this week against the Stormers. He’s a young bloke with plenty of energy and will go well,’ said Blackadder.

Rookie Jonathan Poff will cover Manu from the bench.

Crusaders – 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Tim Bateman/Ryan Crotty, 11 Colin Slade, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Andy Ellis; 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Nasi Manu, 6 Kieran Read (c), 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Bronson Murray, 2 Jason Macdonald, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Dan Perrin, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Michael Paterson, 19 Jonathan Poff, 20 Kahn Fotuali’i, 21 Crotty/Hamish Gard, 22 Kade Poki.

Mackintosh ready for Bulls

All Blacks prop Jamie Mackintosh is one of two changes for the Highlanders.

Mackintosh has been out for the majority of the season after recovering from knee surgery and will form an imposing front row with tighthead Clint Newland and David Hall.

The historic match – the first Super 14 fixture played on neutral territory – will see a start for hometown boy Hayden Triggs. The lock from Palmerston North replaces Josh Bekhuis.

Highlanders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Daniel Bowden, 11 Kendrick Lynn, 10 Matthew Berquist, 9 Jimmy Cowan (c); 8 George Naoupu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Clint Newland, 2 David Hall, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Subs: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Chris King, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Steven Setephano, 20 Sean Romans, 21 Johnny Leota, 22 Fetu’u Vainikolo.

Hika in for Aled

Hooker Aled de Malmanche has been replaced by Hika Elliot in the only change to the Chiefs team to clash with the Reds in Brisbane.

De Malmanche has been in good form and coach Ian Foster put Elliot’s inclusion down to rotation.

‘Aled started the last four games, and for someone who’d only really started one game before this year at hooker he’s been a huge improver and played really well,’ said Foster.

‘We’re delighted with where he’s at. We’re also pretty happy where Hika Elliot is at too. He started the first two games this year and perhaps became a victim of a little bit of a lack of cohesion at the set piece.

‘The Reds will be confident after a win against the Sharks, as well as this, they will also be fresh from their bye,’ said Foster.

Chiefs – 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Kevin O’Neill, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben May, 2 Hikawera Elliot, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Subs: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 James McGougan, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Serge Lilo, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Dwayne Sweeney.