Super Rugby Trans Tasman: Crusaders gain All Blacks, Rebels hand pair debut

Thu, 10/06/2021, 05:20 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Richie Mo'unga returns after he was rested. Photo: Getty Images

The Melbourne Rebels have confirmed Matt To'ouma has been ruled out of their clash with the Crusaders.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the Rebels centre had been struggling with a neck complaint, replaced by Glen Vaihu.

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The young gun forms a new-look centre partnership with Andrew Kellaway, allowing Frank Lomani to come onto the wing.

Meanwhile, former Storm and Titans outside back Young Tonumaipea and 21-year-old Ilikena Vudogo are set to get their Super Rugby debuts.

The pair slot onto the bench with Lachie Anderson (Sevens) and Stacey Ili (personal reasons) unavailable for the match-up.

Steve Cummins also returns to the side via the bench, coming in at the expense of Michael Icely.

Classy from Carter Gordon

As for the Crusaders, they will welcome back a host of All Blacks, led by newly-crowned Crusaders' Player of the Season Richie Mo'unga.

Mo'unga is joined by George Bower, Sam Whitelock and Sevu Reece, who were rested during their eight-point win over the Force.

Cody Taylor hasn't made the trip to Sydney, however, Brodie McAlister has been ruled fit after overcoming a head knock suffered in Round Two.

Ethan Blackadder also returns from a concussion, taking the spot of Cullen Grace as he deals with a hip complaint.

Needing a win and results to go their way, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson is embracing the finals-like atmosphere on Saturday at Leichhardt Oval.

"The equation is pretty simple for us, we'll know what we need to do come Saturday afternoon in Sydney," Robertson said. 

"It's definitely been a finals mindset for us this week, and we just need to get over there and do what is required to earn ourselves another week together."

REBELS (1-15): Cameron Orr, Jordan Uelese, Cabous Eloff, Rob Leota, Trevor Hosea, Michael Wells (c), Richard Hardwick, Isi Naisarani, Joe Powell, Carter Gordon, Marika Koroibete, Glen Vaihu, Andrew Kellaway, Frank Lomani, George Worth

Reserves: James Hanson, Matt Gibbon, Rhys Van Neck, Steve Cummins, Ross Haylett-Petty, James Tuttle, Young Tonumaipea, Ilikena Vudogo

INs: Young Tonumaipea, Ilikena Vudogo, Glen Vaihu, Steve Cummins

OUTs: Matt To'ouma, Stacy Ili, Lachie Anderson, Michael Icely

CRUSADERS (1-15): George Bower, Brodie McAlister, Michael Alaalatoa, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett (c), Ethan Blackadder, Sione Havili Talitui, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo'unga, Leicester Fainga'anuku, David Havili, Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan

Reserves: Nathan Vella, Tamaiti Williams, Oliver Jager, Mitchell Dunshea, Tom Sanders, Bryn Hall, Dallas McLeod, Manasa Mataele

INs: George Bower, Samuel Whitelock, Richie Mo'unga, Sevu Reece, Brodie McAlister, Ethan Blackadder

OUTs: Codie Taylor, Cullen Grace, Fergus Burke, Isileli Tu'ungafasi, Luke Romano, Josh McKay

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