Beaver’s back, Cru­den benched for the Chiefs

The Dominion Post - - Sport - JOSEPH PEAR­SON RUGBY

Stephen Don­ald has been lead­ing the Chiefs around the train­ing pad­dock in Aaron Cru­den’s ab­sence and he’s the man who will pull the strings at 10 when they face the Cru­saders in Fiji to­mor­row.

Join­ing ‘Beaver’ in the Chiefs’ start­ing XV are Brodie Re­tal­lick and Sam Cane, who started all three of the All Blacks’ tests with Wales in the June in­ter­na­tional test win­dow. Reg­u­lar Chiefs first­five Cru­den has been named on the bench.

The Chiefs have made just three changes to their start­ing line-up that suf­fered a heavy 45-25 de­feat to the Waratahs in their last game, at the end of May.

Hika El­liot will make his 100th ap­pear­ance for the Chiefs at hooker, as he and Kane Hames re­place Mitchell Gra­ham and Nathan Har­ris in the front row.

As­sis­tant coach Neil Barnes has re­vealed that Don­ald had been run­ning the show while the Chiefs’ All Blacks were away, and Cru­den’s neck in­jury in the sec­ond test in Welling­ton played no part in the se­lec­tion process.

Barnes said the 32-year-old’s in­spi­ra­tional dis­play in the 40-7 thrash­ing of Wales in Hamil­ton con­vinced the Chiefs coaches he

Damian McKen­zie, Toni Pulu, Seta Ta­mani­valu, An­ton Lienert-Brown, James Lowe, Stephen Don­ald, Brad We­ber; Tom San­ders, Sam Cane, Taleni Seu, Brodie Re­tal­lick, Do­minic Bird, Hiroshi Ya­mashita, Hika El­liot, Kane Hames. Re­serves: Nathan Har­ris, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Atu Moli, Mitchell Brown, Lach­lan Boshier, Taw­era Kerr-Bar­low, Aaron Cru­den, Sam McNi­col. was ready for a start­ing Su­per Rugby again.

‘‘It wasn’t be­cause Aaron is in­jured, be­cause Aaron is ready to play,’’ said Barnes.

‘‘We’ve put three weeks hard work into this game and Stephen’s been right across it, driv­ing train­ing the whole time.

‘‘Go­ing on his form in the Welsh game, which we thought was pretty good, we thought we’d give him the op­por­tu­nity to go out there and run the game for us, but ob­vi­ously Aaron will be com­ing out at some stage.

‘‘He’s a very ex­pe­ri­enced man and part of our at­tack group as well. The tac­tics for the Cru­saders game have been driven by him and KK [Chiefs as­sis­tant coach Kieran Keane].

‘‘It saves Aaron hav­ing to walk back in from the All Blacks camp and drive things at train­ing. He’s a very ex­pe­ri­enced player and at 10 it’s a big help to the side when you’ve got some­one like that lead­ing. He’s been awe­some.’’ role in

Dave Ren­nie ad­mit­ted that he wouldn’t start all of his All Blacks against the Cru­saders at Suva’s ANZ Sta­dium to­mor­row night.

But the two who started each test against Wales – Re­tal­lick and Cane – are named in the for­wards, while Nathan Har­ris, Cru­den and Taw­era Kerr-Bar­low will all come off the bench, with McKen­zie, who didn’t play any min­utes against Wales, re­sum­ing his du­ties at full­back.

Barnes said that Re­tal­lick and Cane were both ready to go for the game in Fiji, less than a week af­ter the All Blacks de­mol­ished Wales 46-6 in the third test in Dunedin.

‘‘We’ve con­sulted with both of those guys and they’re both in good nick,’’ Barnes said of Cane and Re­tal­lick.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously they had that high work­load, which we hope they can man­age.

‘‘At the end of the day, if we had other op­tions out there to use, we prob­a­bly would if they were at that level [of Cane and Re­tal­lick].

‘‘We’ve still got a lot of trust in the fel­las be­hind them and we’ll just see how the game rolls along and play it by ear. They’re both in good nick and telling us they feel good phys­i­cally, so we’ll see how we go.’’


Stephen Don­ald will start at first five-eighth for the Chiefs against the Cru­saders in Fiji.

Aaron Cru­den was the wa­ter boy in the All Blacks’ test against Wales last week.

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