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Heavy artillery back for the Crusaders

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crusaders.co.nz     03 Jul 2014     Getty Images

They are four of six new faces in the starting fifteen.

In the forwards, Ben Funnell and Owen Franks have taken starting spots in place of Corey Flynn and Nepo Laulala, who will be ready to inject some energy off the bench.

Kieran Read’s return to number 8 means Luke Whitelock takes another of the reserve spots. Read will also captain the team.

Nemani Nadolo has returned from international duties in Fiji to take the left wing and Kieron Fonotia will start on the right wing.

Colin Slade retains the first five role and Dan Carter slots in at second five, while Ryan Crotty moves in one place to centre. Israel Dagg has recovered from injury to take the 15 jersey.

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder says the team is fully aware of just how crucial this game is for their playoff hopes: “Training this week has felt like the lead up to a final. There was a huge amount of disappointment and frustration following last week’s loss, but we’ve had to push that aside and put our full focus on this next opportunity. We know that the Blues are desperate for the win, but there is absolutely no lack of determination and desire amongst this squad so we can expect to see fireworks on Saturday night.

“We have the advantage of playing at home and we can’t wait to hear the roar of a Crusaders crowd at AMI Stadium again. That home crowd may just be the extra lift that makes the difference in what is going to be an epic battle,” Blackadder said.

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