“No fear” Force loose forward Ollie Callan will make his first Super Rugby start against the Crusaders on Friday night.
Keep checking in for all the latest trans-Tasman round four team news.
SUPER RUGBY TRANS-TASMAN, ROUND FOUR
CRUSADERS vs FORCE, Friday 5.05pm AEST in Christchurch
The Crusaders are resting All Blacks stars Richie Mo’unga, Sam Whitelock and Sevu Reece for the opening clash of round four on Friday.
Test hopeful George Bower will also sit out as coach Scott Robertson manages his squad through some heavy workloads.
Young five-eighth Fergus Burke and giant prop Tamaiti Williams will make their first Crusaders starts while Manasa Mataele gets a run on the right wing.
“The one thing about having to rotate your All Blacks players and keep them fresh is it gives opportunities to someone else,” Robertson said.
“Those guys have trained extremely hard, and they’re deserving of their opportunity this week, so it’s great to see the energy and excitement building towards this game.”
Meanwhile, Force loose forward Ollie Callan will make his first Super Rugby start after being picked to replace Tim Anstee at No.8.
The London-born, Perth-raised Callan, 20, has had seven games off the bench for the Force.
“It’s great for a local lad who has come through our pathway to get an opportunity to debut as a run-on player against the Crusaders,” Force coach Tim Sampson said.
“He brings a lot of energy and he has no fear. We’ll be looking for physicality, that’s the type of response we need on both sides of the ball. We need to be more aggressive.”
In other changes, fullback Jake Strachan replaces Rob Kearney, Tevita Kuridrani comes into the backline for Jordan Olowofela and hooker Feleti Kaitu’u returns for Andrew Ready.
Kuridrani starts at outside centre with Richard Kahui shifting out to the left wing in place of Olowofela.
Kearney failed his HIA test after the loss to the Hurricanes.
CRUSADERS (15-1): Will Jordan, Manasa Mataele, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Fergus Burke, Bryn Hall, Cullen Grace, Sione Havili Talitui, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Mitchell Dunshea, Scott Barrett (c), Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, Tamaiti Williams
Reserves: Nathan Vella, Isileli Tu’ungafasi, Oliver Jager, Luke Romano, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Drummond, Dallas McLeod, Josh McKay
FORCE (15-1): Jake Strachan, Toni Pulu, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin (c), Richard Kahui, Domingo Miotti, Tomas Cubelli, Ollie Callan, Kane Koteka, Fergus Lee-Warner, Sitaleki Timani, Jeremy Thrush, Santiago Medrano, Feleti Kaitu’u, Tom Robertson
Reserves: Andrew Ready, Angus Wagner, Greg Holmes, Ryan McCauley, Tim Anstee, Ian Prior, Jake McIntyre, Jordan Olowofela
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZ)
REDS vs BLUES, Friday 7.45pm AEST in Brisbane
Reds coach Brad Thorn has had the luxury of naming an unchanged starting side for Friday’s clash with the Blues at Suncorp Stadium.
With no fresh injuries, Thorn has rewarded the same XV that posted Australia’s first trans-Tasman win of the season against the Chiefs last weekend.
There are, however, three changes to the bench with Angus Blyth, Sam Wallis and Moses Sorovi called in.
“We’re at home for the final time this year in front our Queensland supporters,” Thorn said.
“It was good to get the win in Townsville in a good battle with the Chiefs and we’re expecting the same this week against the Blues.”
Meanwhile, the ladder-leading Blues have named a powerful side which features the return of captain Patrick Tuipulotu to the starting lineup.
The All Blacks lock came off the bench in the last two weeks with flanker Tom Robinson filling in as skipper.
“We’ve graduated him back,” Blues coach Leon MacDonald said.
“It was a significant injury, eight weeks with a sore neck, and we didn’t want to rush him back too quickly.”
MacDonald also has the luxury of bringing Test No.8 Hoskins Sotutu off the bench for what he is treating as a do-or-die clash if the Blues are to qualify for the June 19 final.
Akira Ioane will start at the back of the scrum instead.
“There’s not much in it between the two,” MacDonald said.
“Aki got the nod just because of his defensive physicality… But expect to see Hoskins early as well. We’re fortunate with two pretty special players to be able to use them the way we are.”
REDS (15-1): Bryce Hegarty, Suliasi Vunivalu, Hunter Paisami, Isaac Henry, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor (co-c), Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright (co-c), Angus Scott-Young, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Feao Fotuaika
Reserves: Josh Nasser, Dane Zander, Zane Nonggorr, Angus Blyth, Sam Wallis, Moses Sorovi, Hamish Stewart, Ilaisa Droasese
BLUES (15-1): Zarn Sullivan, Bryce Heem, Rieko Ioane, TJ Faiane, Mark Telea, Otere Black, Finlay Christie, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Tom Robinson, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Ofa Tuungafasi, Kurt Eklund, Karl Tu’inukuafe
Reserves: Soane Vikena, Alex Hodgman, Nepo Laulala, Jacob Pierce, Hoskins Sotutu, Jonathan Ruru, Harry Plummer, AJ Lam
Referee: Mike Fraser (NZ)
HIGHLANDERS vs WARATAHS, Saturday 5.05pm AEST in Dunedin
Referee: Damon Murphy (AUS)
BRUMBIES vs HURRICANES, Saturday 7.45pm AEST in Canberra
Referee: Paul Williams (NZ)
Chiefs star sees red for high shot
CHIEFS vs REBELS, Sunday 1.35pm AEST in Hamilton
Referee: Graham Cooper (AUS)