Payne back for Bulls clash

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Payne back for Bulls clash

Jared Payne returns to the starting line up to boost the Crusaders for their crucial clash with the Bulls in Christchurch on Friday.

Payne, a promising utility back, spent virtually all of March on the sidelines with an ankle injury but is set to make a timely return as the Crusaders look to push on after two consecutive wins.

Payne will get a start on the right wing providing he comes through a fitness test. As expected scrumhalf Andy Ellis is out of the match and has been replaced at by Khan Fotuali’i.

There are two changes to the pack from the side that beat the Stormers last week with openside flanker George Whitelock and tighthead prop Owen Franks handed starting roles.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder acknowledges that the Bulls are a big, tough team but is sure his side will give a decent account of themselves after good wins over the Waratahs and the Stormers.

Crusaders – 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Jared Payne, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Colin Slade, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Khan Fotuali’i, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 George Whitelock, 6 Kieran Read (c), 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Jason Macdonald, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Dan Perrin, 17 Peter Borlase, 18 Michael Paterson, 19 Nasi Manu, 20 Tyson Keats, 21 Ryan Crotty, 22 Adam Whitelock.

This thread will be updated throughout the day.