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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 13th February|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Reds|
|17:10||Lions vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th February|
|06:35||Blues vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Sharks vs Cheetahs|
|17:05||Bulls vs Stormers|
|Sunday 15th February|
|06:05||Waratahs vs Western Force|
|Friday 20th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Brumbies|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs|
|17:10||Bulls vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Reds vs Western Force|
|15:05||Stormers vs Blues|
|17:10||Sharks vs Lions|
|Friday 27th February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Reds|
|11:00||Western Force vs Hurricanes|
|17:10||Cheetahs vs Blues|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies|
|15:05||Bulls vs Sharks|
|17:10||Lions vs Stormers|
|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com