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More injury woes for Saders – Sonny Bill Williams and Matt Todd have joined the Crusaders’ already lengthy injury list ahead of their game against the Chiefs in Napier.
Centre Williams is out with a bruised knee while flanker Todd is sidelined with a thigh injury following the defeat to the Cheetahs last weekend.
The Crusaders are already without fullback Israel Dagg (thigh) and wings Sean Maitland (foot) and Adam Whitelock (chest muscle) for the rest of the Super Rugby season. Scrumhalves Andy Ellis (thumb) and Kahn Fotuali’i (knee), and second rower Sam Whitelock (ankle) are still in the process of recovery.
Williams’ absence sees a shuffle in the backline. Robbie Freuan reverts to outside centre from wing as Ryan Crotty takes the inside centre berth. Aucklander Brent Ward grabs the No 14 jersey. The recovered lock Brad Thorn takes Todd’s place on the bench.
There’s rotation in the front row as loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett replaces Owen Franks while Ben Franks switches to tighthead prop.
Crusaders – 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Brent Ward, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Willie Heinz, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Brad Thorn, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Steve Alfeld, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Tu Umaga-Marshall.
Nanai-Williams in for Chiefs – Tim Nanai-Williams replaces the injured Leila Masaga on the wing ahead of the Chiefs’ match against the Crusaders this weekend. Masaga has been ruled out with a leg injury.
There are two other changes as NZ U20 flanker Sam Cane starts at openside flank, which moves Liam Messam to blindside, while Sona Taumalolo is promoted ahead of Toby Smith at loosehead prop.
Chiefs – 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Romana Graham, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Subs: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 Taiasina Tuifua, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Jackson Willison.