Cru­saders’ All Blacks get back to the grind

The Dominion Post - - Sport - RICHARD KNOWLER

Em­bed­ding six All Blacks into the Cru­saders start­ing side to con­front the Chiefs in Suva ap­pears to be the only so­lu­tion for coach Todd Black­ad­der.

For­get the in­con­ve­niences of a six-day turn­around fol­low­ing the 46-6 win over Wales in Dunedin last Satur­day night, or hav­ing to travel on an early­bird flight to Fiji yes­ter­day morn­ing: Cru­saders coach Black­ad­der doesn’t en­cour­age ex­cuses when the All Blacks come back un­der his watch.

In­juries will pre­vent Luke Ro­mano and Ryan Crotty from play­ing to­mor­row night, but seven other All Blacks who par­tic­i­pated in the 3-0 se­ries win over Wales have been asked to im­me­di­ately re­turn to work.

Cap­tain Kieran Read, Is­rael Dagg, Sam White­lock, Owen Franks, Codie Tay­lor and Wyatt

Is­rael Dagg, Jone Macilai, Kieron Fono­tia, David Hav­ili, Ne­mani Nadolo, Richie Mo’unga, Andy El­lis, Kieran Read (cap­tain), Matt Todd, Jor­dan Tau­fua, Sam White­lock, Scott Bar­rett, Owen Franks, Codie Tay­lor, Wyatt Crock­ett. Re­serves: Ben Fun­nell, Joe Moody, Mike Alaala­toa, Jimmy Tupou, Jed Brown, Mitchell Drum­mond, Mitchell Hunt, Sean Wainui. Crock­ett have been in­cluded in the run-on XV, and Joe Moody is in the re­serves.

Per­haps No 8 Read, given the work has had to plough through this year, has been promised a rest from the fol­low­ing week­end’s game against the Rebels in Christchurch. That’s possible, be­cause burn-out could be an is­sue if he isn’t man­aged; in ad­di­tion to as­sum­ing the cap­taincy of the All Blacks, and play­ing all 240 min­utes against the Welsh, Read has played nearly every sec­ond of the 11 games he has started for the Cru­saders.

That’s an enor­mous work­load for the 87-test war­rior – ar­guably the All Blacks’ best player against Wales – to shoul­der but it ap­pears Black­ad­der has told Read and his fel­low in­ter­na­tion­als they have sac­ri­ficed too much blood and sweat to let the Chiefs kick them out of the Su­per Rugby log’s pent­house suite and place their play­off chances in jeop­ardy.

So it’s back to work, no ex­cuses wanted.

Moody is the only other player to have started all three tests, but he has been named in the re­serves be­cause Crock­ett will start at loose­head. The loss of Crotty has re­sulted in David Hav­ili start­ing along­side Kieron Fono­tia in the mid­field, and Fi­jian Jone Macilai has been pre­ferred ahead of Johnny wing.

The se­lec­tions of Macilai and Ne­mani Nadolo on the wings will prove pop­u­lar with the lo­cals, and Black­ad­der and Read will hope that helps swing some lo­cal parochial­ism in their favour.

‘‘We know it’s a Chiefs ‘home’ game, but we are hop­ing that we will get to see a lot of red and black out there on the field come Fri­day night,’’ Read told the Fiji Broad­cast Cor­po­ra­tion. ‘‘I know of Ne­mani and Jone, we have got a good base here in Fiji, we love the sup­port that we do re­ceive. But we will wait till Fri­day night and hope for a lot of sup­port.’’

The sub­sti­tutes bench con­tains open­side flanker Jed Brown. He is listed ahead of Tim Boys who, fol­low­ing a re­cent vi­ral ill­ness that caused mi­graine-like symp­toms and re­sulted in him be­ing hos­pi­talised last week, hasn’t been con­sid­ered. McNi­choll on the right

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