Super 14 final 2008
Deans makes a single change for final
May 31, 2008
Crusaders captain Richie McCaw lifts the newly-crafted Super 14 trophy after his side's 19-12 win over the Hurricanes, Crusaders v Hurricanes, Super 14 final, Lancaster Park, May 27 2006.
Richie McCaw lifts the Crusaders' last title in 2006 © Getty Images

Robbie Deans has predictably made just a solitary change to the Crusaders starting line-up for Saturday night's Super 14 rugby final against the Waratahs in Christchurch.

The inclusion of hooker Ti'i Paulo in place of the injured Corey Flynn, is the only change to the starting 15 that comfortably secured the Crusaders' ninth appearance in the tournament finale by defeating the Hurricanes 33-22 last weekend.

Flynn lasted 12 minutes before breaking an arm, robbing the Crusaders of a wealth of experience.

While the injury is bad luck for the experienced hooker, it has presented another opportunity for his regular understudy, the 25-year-old Paulo, who has already experienced the busiest season yet in his representative career.

A Crusader since 2005, the former national age-grade captain had appeared for the side on just six occasions prior to featuring in 13 of the 14 matches played this season.

"It's obviously bad luck for Corey, but we have every confidence in Ti'i," said Deans, who heads across the Tasman to coach the Wallabies on Monday.

"He's played very well for us when given the opportunity, and I'm sure he will do so again."

The injury has also allowed a promotion for Crusaders wider training group member Steve Fualau, who comes onto the bench as the only personnel change from last week's match-day squad.

The front row aside, the Crusaders will otherwise field a settled combination.

"We've come through the semifinal well to give ourselves the opportunity," Deans said.

The two teams previously squared off in the 2005 decider when the Crusaders prevailed 35-25 to annex the last Super 12 title.

Fullback Leon MacDonald, centre Casey Laulala, first-five-eighths Daniel Carter, No.8 Mose Tuiali'i, flankers Richie McCaw and Reuben Thorne and prop Greg Somerville remain from that playing roster, among the side that has been named today.

The final also represents the end of Reuben Thorne's first class career in New Zealand with the former All Blacks captain heading to play in Japan.

Caleb Ralph is also bound for Japan and is unfortunate to have a muted farewell given he could not force rookie wing Sean Maitland from the bench. Ralph ends his 135-game Super rugby career on 58 tries, one short of competition record holder Doug Howlett.

The Waratahs have also finalised their team for Saturday's clash with David Lyons ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Lyons sustained the injury late last week, and although team management gave him every chance to recover in time for the match, the Wallaby backrower today lost his race against time.

Head Coach Ewen McKenzie praised Lyons' in the manner in which he handled the situation ahead what would have been his final match for the Waratahs.

?The temptation for many players to play would have been huge, but David's always been about the team and although this is extremely disappointing for him he didn't want to play if he wasn't 100%,? said McKenzie. ?Even though David won't be on the park on Saturday, his input and tactical nous will be important for the squad in the final lead-up to the match.

McKenzie has called in a new 24th man to cover for Lyons' injury with Sydney University flanker Pat McCutcheon flying into Christchurch tonight.

Tatafu Polota-Nau has recovered from a hand injury and is the only change to the starting line-up, with fellow Test hooker Adam Freier onto the bench.

The Final will see Al Baxter become the sixth highest capped Waratah of all time, with McKenzie highlighting the blend between youth and experience as a key factor in the team's success this season.

?The senior guys have been around this squad for anything between five and ten years,? said McKenzie. ?Phil [Waugh], Matt [Dunning] and David Lyons all started with NSW in around 1999-2000. Adam Freier and Lote have been here since '03, [Dan] Vickerman since '04.

?On the flip side of that we fielded eight players this year who had never played Super Rugby for the Waratahs. We've got a brand new centre combination, our No.13 is 18 years old and people forget Kurtley [Beale] and Lachie [Turner] are only 19 and 21.

"It's an exciting blend and we won't die wondering on Saturday."

Teams for the Super 14 rugby final at AMI Stadium:

Crusaders: Leon MacDonald, Kade Poki, Casey Laulala, Tim Bateman, Scott Hamilton, Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis, Mose Tuiali'i, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Greg Somerville, Ti'i Paulo, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Steve Fualau, Ben Franks, Reuben Thorne, Nasi Manu, Kahn Fotua li'i, Stephen Brett, Sean Maitland.

New South Wales Waratahs: Sam Norton-Knight, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne, Tom Carter, Lote Tuqiri, Kurtley Beale, Luke Burgess, Wycliff Palu, Phil Waugh (captain), Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman, Dean Mumm, Al Baxter, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Adam Freier, Matt Dunning, Will Caldwell, Beau Robinson, Brett Sheehan, Matt Carraro, Timana Tahu.

Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)

Kickoff: 7.35pm.

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