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PREVIEW: Crusaders v Rebels

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Thursday, July 7, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

ROUND 16: Crusaders v Rebels, 7.35pm Saturday 8 July, AMI Stadium, Christchurch

TALE OF THE TAPE
The Rebels have been much improved in 2016 and were even leading the Australian conference after six rounds but have slipped back as the competition has worn on. The Crusaders have only dropped three games all season and will be confident of finishing as the top New Zealand side with two home games remaining. Overall, the head-to-head record between these two teams is split with two wins apiece.

CENTURION SAM
After debuting in 2010 for the Crusaders, Sam Whitelock brings up 100 matches for the side when he takes the field against the Rebels. Whitelock has become a titan in the world game since his Super Rugby debut six years ago, notching up 75 All Blacks Tests and being noted as one of the world’s finest locks in the process. To make the occasion even more special, Whitelock will captain the side in the absence of Kieran Read.
REJIGGED REBELS
The Rebels have made a total of seven changes to the starting line-up that faced the Stormers last week with Nic Stirzaker, Laurie Weeks, Adam Thomson and Mike Harris returning from injury while Sam Jeffries, Culum Retallick and Sione Tuipulotu have been promoted. A feature of the 23-man squad is the inclusion of two Victorian-bred players for the first time in the clubs history in Sione Tuipulotu and Rob Leota.
BE THERE
The Crusaders return to AMI Stadium for the first time in seven weeks and will be looking for a big win to press their claims for the top spot in the New Zealand Conference. Get your TICKETS HERE to experience the action live and help to celebrate Sam Whitelock’s 100th game for the Crusaders.

TEAMS
Crusaders: 15: Israel Dagg 14: Johnny McNichol 13: Ryan Crotty 12: David Havili 11: Nemani Nadolo 10: Richie Mo’unga 9: Andrew Ellis 8: Jimmy Tupou 7: Matt Todd 6: Jordan Taufua 5: Sam Whitelock 4: Scott Barrett 3: Owen Franks 2: Codie Taylor 1: Alex Hodgman
Reserves: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Peter Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitch Hunt, Kieron Fonotia

Rebels:
15: Mike Harris 14: Sefanaia Naivalu 13: Sione Tuipulotu 12: Reece Hodge 11: Tom English 10: Jack Debreczeni 9: Nic Stirzaker 8: Adam Thomson 7: Colby Fainga’a 6: Jordy Reid 5: Culum Retallick 4: Sam Jeffries 3: Laurie Weeks 2: James Hanson 1: Toby Smith
Reserves: Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah-Nau, Jamie Hagan, Steven Cummins, Robert Leota, Ben Meehan, Paul Asquith, Jonah Placid