Super Rugby
Crusaders start Dan Carter, Kieran Read against Blues
July 3, 2014
The Crusasders' Dan Carter returns to Super Rugby, Hurricanes v Crusaders, Super Rugby, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, June 28, 2014
Dan Carter returned to Super Rugby off the Crusaders bench in Wellington © Getty Images

The Crusaders have wheeled their heavy artillery into the starting team to face the Blues at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.

Dan Carter will make his first start of the season, at inside centre, while No.8 Kieran Read and prop Owen Franks will also run out after the All Blacks trio made bench appearances in the 16-9 loss to the Hurricanes last weekend.

Israel Dagg is also selected at fullback, recovered from a knee injury, while powerhouse Nemani Nadolo is back on the left wing after missing the defeat in Wellington to play a Rugby World Cup qualifier for Fiji.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder made a sixth starting change in promoting Ben Funnell at hooker in place of Corey Flynn.

Blackadder kept Colin Slade at five-eighth, meaning Carter will mark All Blacks juggernaut Ma'a Nonu in an intriguing battle of the No.12s. Carter's promotion has prompted a backline reshuffle, with Ryan Crotty shifted one place to outside centre and Kieron Fonotia pushed onto the right wing.

Johnny McNicholl, Tom Taylor, Luke Whitelock and Nepo Laulala have been benched alongside Flynn, with winger Nafi Tuitavake dropped from the squad entirely.

Read regains the captaincy from Crotty in what will be his first Crusaders start since suffering a head knock 10 weeks ago. He has emerged from a period battling concussion symptoms, having made two recent bench appearances for the Crusaders and playing the first half of the All Blacks' third Test against England two weeks ago.

Blackadder says he has detected a more focused approach as his third-placed team seek to cement their spot at the top of the New Zealand conference. The eighth-placed Blues are still in contention for a finals berth going into the second-last round following their impressive 40-14 dissection of Western Force in Perth.

"Training this week has felt like the lead-up to a final," Blackadder said. "There was a huge amount of disappointment and frustration following last week's loss, but we've had to push that aside."

Crusaders: Israel Dagg; Kieron Fonotia, Ryan Crotty, Dan Carter, Nemani Nadolo; Colin Slade, Andy Ellis; Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua; Sam Whitelock, Dominic Bird; Owen Franks, Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Corey Flynn, Joe Moody, Nepo Laulala, Jimmy Tupou, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Tom Taylor, Johnny McNicholl.


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