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Super Rugby preview: Crusaders v Reds
You can see all the action from the Crusaders play-off against the Reds live on Sky Sports 1 HD on Saturday.
A number of big names are back on show this weekend as the likes of James Horwill and Richie McCaw go head-to-head in the Crusaders' Super Rugby play-off against the Reds.
The return of New Zealand lock Luke Romano is the only change to the Crusaders starting XV. All Blacks skipper McCaw will be on the bench as he makes his first Super Rugby appearance this season after his six-month sabbatical.
Romano has recovered from a high ankle sprain that forced him out of last week's win over the Hurricanes. He starts alongside Sam Whitelock in place of Tom Donnelly, who deputised in the second row last weekend.
Donnelly drops out of the matchday squad as Luke Whitelock provides both lock and loose forward cover on the bench. Centre Tom Taylor, a midweek injury doubt after suffering a head knock against the Hurricanes, has also been cleared to start.
There is one other change amongst the replacements as the versatile Adam Whitelock, who can cover wing and midfield, replaces Telusa Veainu.
The Reds have been boosted by the return of Australian captain Horwill and Will Genia. The pair missed out on the Reds' final round match last week due to injuries suffered while on international duty, but make a timely return to fitness.
However, the men from Queensland will be without key backs Rod Davies (knee) and Mike Harris (hamstring).
Harris is replaced in the midfield by Jono Lance while Davies' spot out wide is taken by Chris Feauai-Sautia as part of an all-new wing division that sees Dom Shipperley come in for Luke Morahan.
Genia takes over the No 9 jersey from Nick Frisby. Centre Anthony Faingaa has not recovered sufficiently from a hamstring strain to take up his place among the replacements.
Horwill's injection into the second row is the only change in the pack, with Ed O'Donoghue dropping to the bench.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Luke Whitelock, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Adam Whitelock.
Reds: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Jono Lance, 11 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (vc), 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Jono Owen, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Luke Morahan.
What they said...
Reds director of coaching Ewen McKenzie
"There is always going to be some damage at this time of the year and while it's disappointing to be without a few guys, we are getting the experience of James and Will back.
"Their influence can't be understated and you need world class players and strong leaders if you are going to win these games on the big stage.
"We have had to reshuffle our backline in some positions and the players coming in now have an opportunity to contribute in a positive way.
"They've all had plenty of experience this year in the roles we are asking of them and we've got every confidence in our entire 22-man squad to get the job done."
Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder
"We are now at the business end of the competition and playing knock out rugby. Having a home ground advantage makes all the difference at this stage of the competition.
"I know the Crusader fans will be right behind the team on Saturday and will show the Reds what it is like to play at our fortress."
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|Friday 27th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels|
|09:00||Reds vs Lions|
|Saturday 28th March|
|05:30||Chiefs vs Cheetahs|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Stormers|
|08:40||Waratahs vs Blues|
|15:05||Sharks vs Western Force|
|17:10||Bulls vs Crusaders|
|Friday 3rd April|
|07:35||Hurricanes vs Stormers|
|09:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Reds|
|Saturday 4th April|
|07:35||Chiefs vs Blues|
|09:40||Brumbies vs Cheetahs|
|14:00||Sharks vs Crusaders|
|16:05||Lions vs Bulls|
|Friday 10th April|
|08:35||Blues vs Brumbies|
|Saturday 11th April|
|08:35||Crusaders vs Highlanders|
|10:40||Waratahs vs Stormers|
|12:45||Western Force vs Cheetahs|
|14:00||Bulls vs Reds|
|16:05||Lions vs Sharks|
|Friday 17th April|
|08:35||Crusaders vs Chiefs|
|Saturday 18th April|
|05:30||Hurricanes vs Waratahs|
|08:35||Highlanders vs Blues|
|10:40||Brumbies vs Melbourne Rebels|
|12:45||Western Force vs Stormers|
|16:05||Sharks vs Bulls|
|Sunday 22nd March|
|Waratahs 28 - 13 Brumbies|
|Saturday 21st March|
|Sharks 12 - 11 Chiefs|
|Bulls 25 - 24 Western Force|
|Crusaders 57 - 14 Cheetahs|
|Friday 20th March|
|Melbourne Rebels 16 - 20 Lions|
|Highlanders 13 - 20 Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th March|
|Cheetahs 10 - 27 Sharks|
|Stormers 19 - 28 Chiefs|
|Reds 0 - 29 Brumbies|
|Highlanders 26 - 19 Waratahs|
|Crusaders 34 - 6 Lions|
|Friday 13th March|
|Western Force 17 - 21 Melbourne Rebels|
|Hurricanes 30 - 23 Blues|
|Saturday 7th March|
|Stormers 29 - 13 Sharks|
|Cheetahs 20 - 39 Bulls|
|Reds 5 - 23 Waratahs|
|Blues 10 - 13 Lions|
|Friday 6th March|
|Brumbies 27 - 15 Western Force|
|Chiefs 17 - 20 Highlanders|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Lions 19 - 22 Stormers|
|Bulls 43 - 35 Sharks|
|Melbourne Rebels 15 - 20 Brumbies|
|Chiefs 40 - 16 Crusaders|
|Friday 27th February|
|Cheetahs 25 - 24 Blues|
|Western Force 13 - 42 Hurricanes|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com