Ethan Blacadder returns for the Crusaders

Ethan Blacadder returns for the Crusaders

It’s Day One of the Australia Tour and the Crusaders have named their squad to take on the Waratahs on Friday 12 April. It’ll be our boys first time playing at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium. Bring on the noise. Bring on the rivalry. Bring on Round 8 of Super Rugby Pacific 2024.

Tom Christie has been named Tour Captain while the team are away – we’re based across the ditch for 12 days through until our game versus the Western Force in Perth on Saturday 20 April.

Arguably the biggest news of the week is the return of Ethan Blackadder to the starting XV, and Brodie McAlister and Christian Lio-Willie to the bench. Get ready for some big collisions across the field from these men. Blackadder starts in the 6 jersey, joined by fellow loose forwards Tom Christie and Cullen Grace.

“We all know the quality Ethan brings, tremendous player who adds a lot of spark around the group,” said Rob Penney, Crusaders Head Coach.

It’s the usual suspects in the front row – George Bower, George Bell and Fletcher Newell – consistent in formation and strength. We’re looking at Quin Strange and Jamie Hannah at lock.

Brodie McAlister, Joe Moody and Owen Franks will be eager to make their mark off the bench when their time comes, as will replacement forwards Dom Gardiner and Christian Lio-Willie.


Noah Hotham impressed against the Chiefs before the bye, earning himself the starting halfback jersey. Veteran Crusader Mitch Drummond will take up duties when called upon at 21.

Riley Hohepa starts again at 10 after displaying solid game management and kicking. Rivez Reihana is back again on the bench. Watching these two trade kicks on the training field is something to behold.

No huge surprise that Man-of-the-Match-versus-the-Chiefs Johnny McNicholl will start at 11. This guy roared back into contention for a starting winger jersey after a two-try performance at Apollo two weeks ago.

Sevu Reece starts on the right ready to dance and dart his way through defensive lines. And if that wasn’t enough, Macca Springer will be right on the edge of the bench ready to come on.

Dallas McLeod and Levi Aumua occupy centre. McLeod looked dangerous with ball in hand versus the Chiefs, cutting lines and drawing in defenders. Levi Aumua will look to fulfil potential versus the Waratahs this week.

Chay Fihaki resumes duties at fullback, ready to steady the ship and reset the attack as required.

We played the Waratahs only a few weeks ago and lost, but in many ways we are not the same team as we were then. It’s time to remind everyone what we can do.

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