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- Super Rugby
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- 1st Jun 2012
- KO 08:35
- Ground: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Crusaders v Highlanders: Teams
At AMI Stadium, Friday June 1, kick-off 08.35 BST
The refreshed Crusaders welcome back number eight Kieran Read for Friday's crucial Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders in Christchurch.
Read has recovered from a badly bruised pelvic bone suffered in the upset defeat against the Rebels in Melbourne three weeks ago.
The World Cup-winning All Black takes Richie McCaw's place at the back of the scrum with the captain moving to openside flanker, relegating Matt Todd to the bench.
"I'm back to normal now," said Read, who had captained the Crusaders for the first 11 rounds in the absence of McCaw.
"I landed in an awkward position - right on the bone at the back of the hip.
"I was in a bit of a shock and pain initially and it was pretty scary, but I'm thankful it was only a minor injury."
In other changes to side which thumped the Blues 59-12 a fortnight ago, Ben Franks will start at tighthead prop instead of younger brother Owen.
Read said it was crunch time for the Crusaders with the Highlanders in seventh place and just two points behind them on the table.
"It's no secret the way they play and how they attack teams. We took a step forward at our last outing and there can be no backward steps now," he said.
"It's an exciting challenge and obviously a make or break time for both teams heading into the bye period.''
The Highlanders have made four changes to their starting pack and five changes to the run-on team that played the Blues last week.
Chris King returns to the front row replacing Ma'afu Fia, who drops out of the 22.
Lock Josh Bekhuis and flanker James Haskell also return to the starting eight replacing Hoani MacDonald and Tim Boys respectively.
Nasi Manu also comes back into the starting XV at number eight, and Nick Crosswell moves to the reserves bench.
In the backs only one change has been made with Aaron Smith returning to the starting scrum-half spot ahead of Jimmy Cowan.
On the reserves bench Scott Fuglistaller drops out of the 22 for Tim Boys, and Kade Poki comes back into the squad replacing Kenny Lynn.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Matt Todd, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Tom Marshall.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kurt Baker, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 James Haskell, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Kade Poki.
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com