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Thursday Feb 8, 2024

Halfpenny out, Heinz in - Crusaders name side to take on Bristol

The Crusaders have named their side to take on Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate Stadium on Friday evening. This challenge comes after the New Zealand side lost by just a few points to reigning URC champions, Munster, in a thrilling match in Cork.

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The visiting side will be hoping to turn their favours around this weekend, with no less than 11 changes having been made to their starting XV. The most noticeable change is the inclusion of former Gloucester scrum-half Willi Heinz as captain, taking over from Macca Springer who picked up a yellow card in their last match.

Crusaders assistant coach Tamaiti Ellison, said: “Willi has obviously had time up here with Gloucester, and if it’s raining and it looks like it will be, he will be able to manage the game really well from halfback and with the captain’s badge.”

Alongside the change to the captaincy, the other big change to the squad is the exclusion of Welsh legend, Leigh Halfpenny. The 35-year-old is now expected to sit the majority of the season out with a pectorial muscle tear which he picked up in the recent loss to Munster.

Discussing the fullback, Ellison said: “He will have surgery up here, and once he is ready to fly he will come back home and rehab in Christchurch,” 

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“It is a real bummer for him. Especially having time here at the hotels and with the group. He is just starting to open up, and get the best out of him.

“He will still help, even during his rehab period, around some of the kicking and the game-driving for a few of our younger boys. He has been great there, already.

“We are expecting him to play. If the rehab goes well, he will be looking forward to playing,”

Crusaders team to take on Bristol Bears

  1. Kershawl Sykes-Martin, 2. Goerge Bell, 3. Seb Calder, 4. Quinten Strange (VC), 5. Jamie Hannah, 6. Dominic Gardiner, 7. Corey Kellow, 8. Christian Lio-Willie, 9. Willi Heinz (C), 10. Rivez Reihana, 11. Macca Springer, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Jone Rova, 14. Manasa Matale, 15. Chay Fihaki

Finishers

  1. Ioane Moananu, 17. George Bower, 18. Ryan Coxon, 19. Antonio Shalfoon, 20. Fletcher Anderson, 21. Noah Hotham, 22. Taha Kemara, 23. Levi Aumua, 24. Taine Robinson, 25. Jack Gray, 26. Gus Brown
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