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Taylor and Romano cleared, McCaw on Crusaders bench

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crusaders.co.nz and James Mortimer     18 Jul 2013     Getty Images

This Saturday 20th July see’s Super Rugby’s seven time champions the Crusaders take on Queensland’s Reds at AMI Stadium, Christchurch. Kick-off is at 19.35 NZT (17.35 NSW/ACT, 09.35 SAT).

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder has named his team to play the Reds making only one change to the starting fifteen that beat the Hurricanes 25-17 last weekend. Lock Luke Romano returns from an ankle injury to reform locking partnership team mate Sam Whitelock.

Meanwhile the bench see’s the much awaited return of Crusader and All Black Richie McCaw. McCaw returns from a six month sabbatical. The game will mark his first Super Rugby match for the 2013 season following an eighty minute club rugby game last weekend.

The Super Rugby Qualifier will also mark a special occasion for fellow flanker Matt Todd. When he pulls on the number 7 jersey and runs out on Saturday night he will be playing his 50th Super Rugby match for the Crusaders.

This is knock out rugby and with both sides vying to secure themselves a place in the semi-finals it will be an intense, physical and passionate battle. The two sides have previously met on nineteen occasions with the Crusaders coming out the victors winning 68% of the battles. The Reds have not won on Crusader turf since 1999.

However in recent years the two sides have developed some fierce rivalry and with player match ups such as first-fives Carter vs Cooper on the cards it is bound to be just that. Add to the dynamic thirteen All Blacks (9 present and 4 former) in the Crusaders side facing a Reds team with fourteen Wallabies (6 present and 8 former) and the game is set to be a test match of Super Rugby proportions.

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder encourages fans to come out in support of the team on Saturday night. “This season we remain unbeaten at home and this is largely due to the enthusiastic and boisterous red and black support we receive every time we play at AMI Stadium. With this weekend’s game being the last time the Crusaders will play at home during 2013 we encourage fans to don the red & black once more and help us to show the Reds what it is like to play knock out footy at our fortress.”

Tickets are still available and start from as little as $21 for an adult, $10 for children or $29 for one adult and one child on a Take a Kid to Footy ticket. Tickets can be purchased through Ticket Direct (0800 224 224 or ticketdirect.co.nz) or The Warehouse.

Fans are reminded that there will be a free direct bus service to the game at AMI Stadium. The Rugby Express park and ride service will run from Northwood Supa Centre, The Hub Hornby, The Palms, Beresford Street (via New Brighton and Eastgate) and Merivale Mall, returning rugby fans back to their base after the game.

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Tom Marshall, Ryan Crotty, Tom Taylor, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (c), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett: Reserves: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Luke Whitelock, Richie McCaw, Willi Heinz, Tyler Bleyendaal, Adam Whitelock.