Todd questions Brits selection

    2011-06-30 21:59
    Stephen Nell

    Cape Town - Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder on Wednesday questioned the ethics of the Stormers' decision to call Schalk Brits into their squad ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby semi-final at Newlands.

    "It's something SANZAR decides on, but it boils down to a marquee player coming in at the business end of the season," said Blackadder.

    "I don't want to get into it too much because I want to focus on what we are going to do. SANZAR will probably close the loophole at the end of the season. It's a decision the Stormers made and we can't do anything about it. We will just focus on putting in a good performance.

    "The Stormers got dispensation and clearly there weren't any other loose forwards in the Cape."

    The Stormers' decision to pull in Brits came after South Africa under-20 loose forward Siya Kolisi was mugged on Friday night.

    SANZAR confirmed earlier this week that they had received injury reports on Kolisi, Pieter Louw and Duane Vermeulen.

    While the governing body approved Brits's participation, it's on the condition that he is not picked as a hooker ahead of Tiaan Liebenberg or Deon Fourie.

    Meanwhile, Blackadder has included fit-again All Black captain Richie McCaw in his starting line-up. He replaces Matt Todd as openside flank in the only change to the side that beat the Sharks 36-8 in their quarter-final in Nelson.

    The Crusaders are also taking confidence from the previous encounter between the teams in May, which the Kiwis won 20-14.

    "Everyone was proud of that performance and we know that we can win here, but last year the Stormers gave us 40 points," said Blackadder.

    "This is a semi-final and the approach is different. It's a must-win.

    "I think we are bringing a stronger team to Cape Town this week. Last time we did not have Richie, Dan Carter, Brad Thorn or Sam Whitelock available. We also picked up a lot of injuries in the game."

    All Black hooker Corey Flynn will be playing his 100th game for the Crusaders and that will provide further motivation for the Kiwis.

    The return of McCaw means that every single member of the Crusaders' pack has Test experience. Behind them there is a halfback pairing of Andy Ellis and Dan Carter, and a midfield of Sonny Bill Williams and Robbie Fruean.

    "We have picked our strongest possible side. Richie's return gives us another world class player," said Blackadder.

    "He has recovered from his foot injury and to be able to include him at this stage of the season is fantastic for us. Richie can play for 80 minutes and is psychologically strong. The team selection is quite predictable."

    Blackadder believes the Crusaders are in a much better space than last year when they lost to the Bulls in the semi-final.

    "Last year we limped into the semi-final, but this season things are very different. We have built for three years and the team is mentally strong."


    15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw

    Substitutes: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Schalk Brits, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Johann Sadie

    15 Tom Marshall, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (capt), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett

    Substitutes: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Matt Todd, 20 Kahn Foutali'i, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Ryan Crotty

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