Finalists picking and sticking for Super Rugby showdown

Super Rugby
by AAP

The Crusaders believe selection continuity will be a weapon in the Super Rugby final after unveiling an unchanged side for the second straight week.

The same starting XV and reserve bench which beat the Highlanders 17-0 in the quarter-finals and the Chiefs 27-13 in last week's semi-final will face the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The only injury concerns had surrounded two key All Blacks forwards who picked up niggles in their Christchurch semi-final.

Prop Owen Franks (achilles tendon) and No.8 Kieran Read (knee) have both been passed fit. They have participated in what has admittedly been a light start to the week's preparation.

Kieran Read is set for surgery. Photo: Getty ImagesAssistant coach Brad Mooar said fielding an unchanged team throughout the finals distilled a sense of unity for the seven-time champions.

"It's awesome. The third game in a row and wonderful to get to a final and have everybody fit and available for selection," he said.

"Continuity is very very important. Being in this position at the back end of the season speaks highly of the way we've managed the players."

Nearly half of the Crusaders 23 are All Blacks, including seven in the starting pack.

Mooar says the Crusaders are content with the appointment of South African referee Jaco Peyper to control the final, disagreeing with a number of Kiwi-based commentators who believe the match officials should be neutral.

Peyper has always been impartial and relates well to players during games, Mooar said.

The South African side has matched the Crusaders by unveiling an identical side to that which claimed victory in the semi-finals last week.

Nine of the Lions starting XV were starters in last year's 20-3 loss to the Hurricanes in the final. Two others were on the reserve bench in Wellington.

One player missing is influential captain and No.8 Warren Whiteley, who was injured while playing for the Springboks against France in June.

The skipper's role has been subsequently taken up by flanker Jaco Kriel, who was a central figure in the semi-final fightback from 19 points down to beat the Hurricanes 44-29 at Ellis Park.

The decider will serve as a farewell for Ackermann.

He will take up a post at Gloucester, with Lions assistant Swys de Bruin to take the Lions head role next year.

The Lions host the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final, kicking off on Sunday morning at midnight, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.


Lions team to face the Crusaders

1. Jacques van Rooyen

2. Malcolm Marx

3. Ruan Dreyer

4. Andries Ferreira

5. Franco Mostert

6. Jaco Kriel

7. Kwagga Smith

8. Ruan Ackermann

9. Ross Cronje

10. Elton Jantjies

11. Courtnail Skosan

12. Harold Vorster

13. Lionel Mapoe

14. Ruan Combrinck

15. Andries Coetzee


16. Akker van der Merwe

17. Corne Fourie

18. Johannes Jonker

19. Lourens Erasmus

20. Cyle Brink

21. Faf de Klerk

22. Rohan Janse van Rensburg

23. Sylvian Mahuza




Crusaders team to face the Lions

1. Joe Moody

2. Codie Taylor

3. Owen Franks

4. Scott Barrett

5. Sam Whitelock (c)

6. Jordan Taufua

7. Matt Toddd

8. Kieran Read

9. Bryn Hall

10. Richie Mounga

11. Seta Tamanivalu

12. Ryan Crotty

13. Jack Goodhue

14. Israel Dagg


16. Ben Funnell

17. Wyatt Crockett

18. Michael Alaalatoa

19. Luke Romano

20. Pete Samu

21. Mitchell Drummons

22. Mitch Hunt

23. George Bridge