Dagg dropped, Carter starts
Sydney - Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has lost patience with Israel Dagg, dropping the out-of-form All Blacks fullback to the bench for Sunday's crunch match against the Brumbies in Canberra.
The talented 24-year-old has struggled in Super Rugby since returning from a hamstring injury a month ago and was criticised by local media for missing a number of tackles in the Crusaders' narrow win over the Melbourne Rebels last weekend.
"He even admitted himself he has not been on top of his game, so we have just decided to take him out of the hot seat and put him on the bench," Blackadder told New Zealand media.
Tom Taylor, who kicked 20 points against the Rebels to get the Crusaders over the line in Christchurch on Sunday, switches from inside centre to replace Dagg at fullback, allowing Ryan Crotty to slot back into the inside centre position.
The Crusaders' uninspiring win over the cellar-dwelling Rebels was their fifth from nine games and kept them in touch with the top six and a playoffs berth midway through the season.
However, the seven-time champions have struggled for consistency in the absence of totemic captain Richie McCaw, who is on a prolonged sabbatical from rugby, and face a tough run to the playoffs against their New Zealand conference rivals.
Blackadder can at least rely on full service from Dan Carter, welcoming the long-serving All Blacks flyhalf back to the starting team after he was eased into action off the bench against the Rebels following a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Barnstorming back Robbie Fruean also returns to the starting centre position against the competition-leading Brumbies after being rested for the Rebels match.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan
Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam
Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Israel Dagg