Reds and Crusaders unchanged for final
July 7, 2011
Ewen McKenzie enjoys a steady week at training in the lead-up to the Super Rugby final © Getty Images
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie has named his first unchanged 22-man squad of the season for Saturday's Super Rugby final against the Crusaders.
The only change considered to the line-up which defeated the Blues 30-13 last weekend hinged on the potential return of Luke Morahan, but the winger has fallen short of overcoming a torn hamstring.
"He's struggling," McKenzie told AAP. "He's come a long way but he's just getting back into training and he hasn't done enough."
In what may be a good omen for the Reds, the only other time this season that McKenzie was able to utilise the same starting XV as the previous week came when the Reds defeated the Crusaders 17-16 in Round 15 at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium.
Todd Blackadder's men will also go into the decider with a stable squad, as they too have named an unchanged starting line-up. However, the final Crusaders' starting side will not be confirmed until scrum-half Andy Ellis undergoes a fitness test on Thursday on knee and shoulder bruising sustained during the side's 29-10 semi-final win over the Stormers.
Reserve lock Luke Romano has also recovered from chickenpox - and a late arrival in Brisbane due to quarantine restrictions - to take his place on the bench. Japan-bound former All Black Chris Jack drops out of the squad.
Wing Sean Maitland, the competition's joint leading try scorer, was also confirmed in the back three after being rested from training yesterday as he continues to nurse a foot injury. The forward pack is predictably unchanged from the unit that monstered the South African conference winners so Owen Franks, Corey Flynn and Wyatt Crockett start in the front row with Ben Franks in reserve.
Meanwhile, a capacity crowd of 52,000 is expected to fill Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, which would break Australian rugby's long-standing provincial attendance record of 49,327, set in 1907, when NSW played the All Blacks at the SCG.
Reds: Jono Lance, Rod Davies, Anthony Faingaa, Ben Tapuai, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Ben Daley, Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes, Rob Simmons, James Horwill (c), Scott Higginbotham, Beau Robinson, Radike Samo.
Replacements: James Hanson, Guy Shepherdson, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Ian Prior, Will Chambers.
Crusaders: Tom Marshall, Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean, Sonny Bill Williams, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis/Kahn Fotuali'i, Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, George Whitelock, Richie McCaw (c), Kieran Read.
Replacements: Quentin MacDonald, Ben Franks, Luke Romano, Matt Todd, Kahn Fotuali'i/Willi Heinz, Matt Berquist, Ryan Crotty.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (NZ)
Assistant referees: Stuart Dickinson (Aus), Vinny Munro (NZ)
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