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Crusaders v Sharks: Teams
At AMI Stadium, Friday February 26, kick-off 6.35am
The Crusaders welcome back All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw for Friday's clash with the Sharks in Christchurch.
McCaw has been rested for the opening two rounds of this season's competition but he will now make his return to action off the bench.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said: "'It was always planned to have Richie back this week and to put him on the bench and we're not going to change that philosophy.
"It would be putting him under a lot of pressure as well. It's never about one person and we'll manage him during the game."
Following the defeat to the Reds last time out, Blackadder has made five changes to his starting XV.
Wyatt Crockett, Ryan Crotty, Jared Payne and Sean Maitland all come into the line-up, while All Black lock Brad Thorn replaces the injured Isaac Ross.
England fly-half Andy Goode is poised to make his Sharks debut off the bench after arriving on a short-term deal from Brive.
Fellow loan signing Wilhelm Steenkamp, who has joined from the Bulls, is also named on the bench.
There are three changes to the starting XV as the Sharks go looking fro their first win of the campaign - with Willem Alberts, Johann Muller and Bismarck du Plessis coming into the line-up.
Coach John Plumtree said: "We haven't won a game yet, so for us it could be a good thing to get out of town and get tighter as a group.
"We'll get overseas, work really hard and look to pick up wins; I think we're just lacking a bit of self-belief."
Crusaders: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 George Whitelock, 6 Kieran Read (capt), 5 Brad Thorn, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Ti'i Paulo, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Joe Wheeler, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Kahn Fotuali'i, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Colin Slade.
Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Adrian Jacobs, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 John Smit (capt), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Andy Goode, 22 Riaan Swanepoel.
|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