SBW, Thorn to start

    2011-05-26 07:19
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    Sydney - All Blacks Sonny Bill Williams and Brad Thorn are back in the Crusaders lineup for Sunday's crunch Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Reds in Brisbane.

    Williams has recovered from a bruised knee suffered in the match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein two weeks ago and which kept him out of the win over the Chiefs in Napier. He replaces Ryan Crotty at inside centre.

    Williams will be hoping he comes through injury-free, with his next professional boxing bout being held on Saturday next week in Auckland when the Crusaders have a bye.

    Lock Thorn came through 40 minutes in the victory over the Chiefs at Napier last Saturday after replacing Chris Jack. Thorn had previously been out for three weeks with a calf strain.

    Thorn's return sees Luke Romano drop to the reserves bench.

    Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has also decided to swap the Franks brothers, with Owen taking over at tighthead ahead of brother Ben.

    On the reserves bench, hooker Quentin MacDonald, who missed the Chiefs match with a sore lower back, is bracketed with David Hall.

    And Matt Todd, who missed that game with a corked thigh, is bracketed with Joe Wheeler.

    This will be a hugely influential match, not just to the New Zealand conference where the Crusaders trail the Blues by two points but also to the overall table, where the Reds have a four-point lead over the Blues.

    Blackadder said his team was up for the challenge.

    "This promises to be a massive match. The Reds are unbeaten at home this season and are on top of the table. But we're looking forward to the challenge and I'm confident we'll give a good account of ourselves," Blackadder said.

    "I was pleased with the way we won against the Chiefs in Napier. This will be a different prospect entirely but we have the team to do well there."

    Australian-based Kiwi referee Steve Walsh has been replaced by Australian Stu Dickinson for this fixture. Walsh continues to be plagued by a mystery calf injury.


    15 Tom Marshall, 14 Brent Ward, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett

    Substitutes: 16 Quentin MacDonald / David Hall, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Luke Romano. 19 Matt Todd/Joe Wheeler, 20 Steve Alfeld, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Ryan Crotty



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