Paulo solitary change for Crusaders - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Paulo solitary change for Crusaders

29/05/2008 08:16:00 AM Comments (0)

Robbie Deans has predictably made just one change to the Crusaders starting line-up for Saturday night's Super 14 rugby final against the Waratahs in Christchurch.

The inclusion of hooker Ti'i Paulo in place of the injured Corey Flynn is the only change to the starting 15 that comfortably secured the Crusaders' ninth appearance in the tournament finale by defeating the Hurricanes 33-22 last weekend.

Flynn lasted 12 minutes before breaking an arm, robbing the Crusaders of a wealth of experience.

The injury has presented another opportunity for Flynn's regular understudy, the 25-year-old Paulo, who has already experienced the busiest season yet in his representative career.

A Crusader since 2005, the former national age-grade captain had appeared for the side on just six occasions prior to featuring in 13 of the 14 matches played this season.

"It's obviously bad luck for Corey, but we have every confidence in Ti'i," said Deans, who heads across the Tasman to coach the Wallabies on Monday.

"He's played very well for us when given the opportunity, and I'm sure he will do so again."

The injury has also allowed a promotion for Crusaders wider training group member Steve Fualau, who comes onto the bench as the only personnel change from last week's match-day squad.

The front row aside, the Crusaders will otherwise field a settled combination.

The two teams previously squared off in the 2005 decider when the Crusaders prevailed 35-25 to annex the last Super 12 title.

Fullback Leon MacDonald, centre Casey Laulala, first-five-eighths Daniel Carter, No.8 Mose Tuiali'i, flankers Richie McCaw and Reuben Thorne and prop Greg Somerville remain from that playing roster, among the side that has been named on Thursday.

The final also represents the end of Reuben Thorne's first class career in New Zealand with the former All Blacks captain heading to play in Japan.

Caleb Ralph is also bound for Japan and is unfortunate to have a muted farewell given he could not force rookie wing Sean Maitland from the bench. Ralph ends his 135-game Super rugby career on 58 tries, one short of competition record holder Doug Howlett.

Crusaders: Leon MacDonald, Kade Poki, Casey Laulala, Tim Bateman, Scott Hamilton, Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis, Mose Tuiali'i, Richie McCaw (capt), Kieran Read, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Greg Somerville, Ti'i Paulo, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Steve Fualau, Ben Franks, Reuben Thorne, Nasi Manu, Kahn Fotuali'i, Stephen Brett, Sean Maitland.

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