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Super Rugby: Hurricanes v Crusaders match preview
The Hurricanes have turned to Tim Bateman to fill the void left by Conrad Smith for Saturday's Super Rugby match with the Crusaders.
With skipper Smith sidelined with a thumb injury picked up in New Zealand’s Test series win over England, Bateman will come into the Hurricanes XV at outside centre.
Jeremy Thrush will take over the captaincy, while there are also starts for lock Blade Thomson and back-rows Brad Shields and Ardie Saeva.
All Blacks Dan Carter is poised to make his return to action for the Crusaders after he was named on the bench for the clash in Wellington.
Carter has been on a six-month sabbatical since New Zealand’s autumn tour of Europe, however he began he comeback playing club rugby for Southbridge.
Having come through unscathed, Carter has now been included in the match-day squad – with Colin Slade retaining the No 10 jersey.
Coach Todd Blackadder has made six changes to his line-up in total from the last Super Rugby game – the Crusaders had a friendly against England during the international break – with Kieron Fonotia, Nafi Tuitavake, Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd, Corey Flynn and Wyatt Crockett all starting.
Kieran Read and Ben Funnell join Carter on the bench, however Richie McCaw and Israel Dagg are both injured while Nemani Nadolo is representing Fiji.
Hurricanes: 15 Proctor, 14 Jane, 13 Bateman, 12 Leiua, 11 J Savea, 10 Barrett, 9 Perenara, 1 B Franks, 2 Coles, 3 Toomaga-Allen, 4 Thursh (c), 5 Thomson, 6 Shields, 7 A Savea, 8 Vito.
Replacements: 16 Matu'u/Goodes, 17 Eves, 18 Goodes/Edmonds, 19 Broadhurst, 20 Lam, 21 Smylie, 22 Parkes, 23 Marshall.
Crusaders: 15 Taylor, 14 McNicholl, 13 Fonotia, 12 Crotty (c), 11 Tuitavake, 10 Slade, 9 Ellis, 1 Crockett, 2 Flynn, 3 Laulala, 4 Bird, 5 Whitelock, 6 Taufua, 7 Todd, 8 Whitelock.
Replacements: 16 Funnell, 17 Moody, 18 O Franks, 19 Tupou, 20 Read, 21 Heinz, 22 Carter, 23 Thompson.
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com