In what is touted as one of the biggest match ups in the competition so far, and at a critical time of the season, the Crusaders and Chiefs will take the field at FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday 29 April, kick off at 7.05pm.
It’ll be veteran Crusader Sam Whitelock’s 350th First Class game, and Quinten Strange’s 50th in a Crusaders jersey – milestones for both men who continue to stamp their mark not only on the franchise, but the game as a whole.
Tighthead prop Oli Jager is back in action after a significant time on the sideline. He was injured during the late stages of NPC ’22 and had surgery at the start of 2023. His rehab is ahead of schedule thanks to hard work from himself and the Crusaders medical team. Expect big cheers from fans and teammates when he takes the field off the bench.
“Oli is important to us, a great player on and off the field,” said Scott Robertson, Crusaders Head Coach.
“It’s important to have that little bit of depth with Fletcher [Newell] going early. He’s worked hard and for him to come back now, yeah, the timing is perfect.”
Leicester Fainga’anuku retakes a spot in the starting XV after some scintillating play in recent fixtures, while Dallas McLeod dons the 14 jersey in a signal of the fantastic form he’s been in.
“Dallas has deserved it hasn’t he, he’s earnt it. He’s tough and resilient in the mid-field, and when we’ve put in on the wing he’s been great,” Robertson said.
“He’s good in the air, he’s a great defender, he’s trained well, and we’re just really pleased for him.”
The always-solid pairing of Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond and Fergus Burke are covering the back, while the consistent Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Tamaiti Williams are expected to hold strong in the front row.
It’s always a big one against the Chiefs and this weekend is no different. The boys travel with respect for the opposition, care for their team mates, and a determination to win. Bring on Saturday.