Taylor returns for final against Wellington
October 23, 2013
The Crusaders' Tom Taylor scores a try against the Highlanders, Crusaders v Highlanders, Super Rugby, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, April 20, 2013
Tom Taylor's (above) return sees Rob Thompson move to the bench © Getty Images

Tom Taylor returns at fullback in the only starting change for defending champions Canterbury ahead of the NPC Premiership final against Wellington on Saturday. The availability of Taylor, an All Blacks utility back, sees Johnny McNicholl move to the left wing, with Rob Thompson dropping to the reserves bench for the game in Wellington.

The only other changes from the side that beat Auckland 56-26 in the semi-final at Christchurch come on the reserve bench. Another 2013 All Blacks player, Colin Slade, has recovered from a knee injury he sustained in Canterbury's 25-19 loss to Wellington five weeks ago. He replaces Richie Mo'unga on the bench, while prop Marcel Cummings-Toone has overcome a heel problem and usurps Seb Siataga.

Coach Scott Robertson says his team have embraced the goal of winning a sixth successive crown. They broke the National Provincial Championship record last year with title No. 5 on the trot but aren't content to stop there against a Wellington side that have lost just one game all year to earn a home final as top qualifiers.

"Wellington have been outstanding this season so there is no doubt they will be a big challenge on Saturday," he said. "It was a tough and close encounter last time we played. Finals create a great test of a team's character and we are looking forward to this challenge."

Canterbury: Tom Taylor; Patrick Osborne, Adam Whitelock, Ryan Crotty, Johnny McNicholl; Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis; Nasi Manu, George Whitelock (captain), Luke Whitelock; Luke Katene, Joel Everson; Nepo Laulala, Ben Funnell, Joe Moody. Replacements: Marcel Cummings-Toone, Paea Fa'anunu, Dominic Bird, Jordan Taufua, Willi Heinz, Rob Thompson, Colin Slade.

Follow live text commentary of the ITM Cup Premiership final between Wellington Lions and Canterbury on Saturday, October 26 from 7pm (NZDT), 5pm (AEDT) and 6am (GMT)


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