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ITM Cup champions welcome back Andy Ellis for semi-final

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crfu.co.nz and James Mortimer     17 Oct 2013     Getty Images

The same starting fifteen that took down North Harbour 38-0 last week will run on against Auckland.

Andy Ellis has recovered from his shoulder dislocation suffered against North Harbour to take the halfback spot again this week.

Also returning from injury this week is big lock, Dominic Bird. Bird suffered a ruptured pectoral at the end of June when playing for the Crusaders, but will make his return off the bench for Canterbury this week.

Hooker Corey Flynn is unavailable again this week due to a neck injury, so Ben Funnell will start and Seb Siataga will take a spot on the bench.

Canterbury Head Coach Scott Robertson paid tribute to the medical staff: “Our physios, trainer and doctor have been working overtime this week after a number of players sustained injuries against North Harbour. But they’ve done an outstanding job and we are very lucky to have a player of Andy Ellis’s calibre, for example, back in the fold this week.”

Robertson also thanked Canterbury supporters and encouraged them to give the team all the noisy help they can for what could be the final home game of the season.

“Our supporters have been fantastic this season and we are incredibly grateful for that. They have helped us to keep a no-loss record at home, and we are hoping that they can help us do that again on Saturday,” Robertson said.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased through Ticket Direct (www.ticketdirect.co.nz, ph. 0800 224 224), The Palms, South City Champions of the World, or selected Warehouse stores.

The semi-final kicks off at 2:05pm but gates at AMI Stadium will open at 11:00am for an 11:30am curtain-raiser between the Canterbury and Wellington Women’s teams.

Canterbury team to play Auckland: 1.Joe Moody, 2.Ben Funnell, 3.Nepo Laulala, 4.Joel Everson, 5.Luke Katene, 6.Luke Whitelock, 7.George Whitelock (c), 8.Nasi Manu, 9.Andy Ellis, 10.Tyler Bleyendaal, 11.Rob Thompson, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Adam Whitelock, 14.Patrick Osborne, 15.Johnny McNicholl.

Subsitutes: 16.Seb Siataga, 17.Paea Fa'anunu, 18.Dominic Bird, 19.Jordan Taufua, 20. Willi Heinz, 21.Richie Mo;unga, 22.Jamie Verran.