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Crusaders bench Mehrtens

19/02/2004 07:10:12 PM Comments (0)

All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens will be on the reserves bench with test midfield back Aaron Mauger preferred at first five-eighth for the Crusaders' Super 12 rugby match against the New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday.

Coach Robbie Deans has opted for co-captain Mauger in the pivot position, with another All Black, Daniel Carter, outside him at second five-eighth.

The move is a broad hint that Mauger is being groomed as the next long-term No 10, with Carter set to specialise in the midfield role, although Deans prefaces any comment about permanent permutation with the phrase "at this stage".

"We considered the form to date and what we are looking for in that role and thought the combination we've opted for is the best at this point," the fifth-year Crusaders coach said.

Carter, 22, was a first five-eighth throughout his age-group career, but spent virtually all of his Super 12 sophomore season - and his first eight All Blacks tests - at second five in 2003.

He was one of the All Blacks' stars in pool play at the World Cup, but was replaced at second-five for the playoff games by Mauger, who had recovered from injury.

Deans said Mauger, 23, and Carter were both capable of playing either five-eighths role.

But when both were in the same starting 15 it was more likely that Mauger would be considered ahead of Carter as a No 10.

"Daniel is a very strong defender, but then so is Aaron. I think, in terms of their development, Aaron is a little bit more experienced and possibly a little bit more vocal.

"And with his leadership role, he's a little bit better suited to the inside pivot role, at this stage."

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