Blackadder rings the changes

Getty Images

Thursday, April 23, 2009    NZPA    Getty Images

Wary of keeping his players fresh as they launch a late-season assault on the playoffs, Blackadder has made three changes to his pack and two to his backline from the side who upset the Sharks 13-10 in Durban last weekend.

There is also a positional switch, with Jared Payne switching from the right wing to fullback. It makes room for Kade Poki and pushes veteran All Black Leon MacDonald to the reserve bench.

All the demoted players are on the bench, including halfback Andy Ellis, who is still bothered by rib damage and is replaced by Kahn Fotuali'i.

Up front, flanker Kieran Read, lock Isaac Ross and prop Bronson Murray make way for Michael Paterson, Ross Filipo and Owen Franks.
It is the first time this season the tireless Read hasn't made the starting team.

Second five-eighth Ryan Crotty has overcome a burst eardrum suffered against the Sharks and will start.

The side are again led by All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, who returned to action at Durban after six weeks on the sideline with a knee injury.