Super Rugby 2019: Crusaders give All Blacks extra rest against Lions

The champion Crusaders have resisted the temptation to field their best line-up for Friday's Super Rugby final rematch with the visiting Lions.

Fresh off their win over the Chiefs last weekend, the South Africans present a legitimate challenge to Canterbury-based franchise chasing a three-peat of titles.

That result sees the three-time runners-up leap from bottom of a tight South African conference to second - just one point behind the Bulls - and fifth overall, well in playoff contention.

But Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has rested several key performers, including All Blacks Scott Barrett, Matt Todd and Jack Goodhew.

Since they enjoyed a bye last week, these absences are presumably not mandated by All Blacks welfare protocols.

"It was a great opportunity," says Robertson. "We've got a big run ahead of us, we're on tour.

"We've found giving them a chance for two weeks off is huge for them, mentally and physically. They can climb into their training in the second week, get some running metres up, along with strength gains and then get a run of games all at once, before that next bye."

Quinten Strange steps in for Barrett at lock, Billy Harmon deputises for Todd at openside flanker, while Barydon Ennor moves into centre for Goodhew.

Prop Owen Franks is also absent through ankle injury, but Robertson claims he is quietly working away in the background for a future return.

"It's looking positive at the moment, but until the specialist gives the go-ahead or not, we won't no more.

"He would sleep in the gym if he could - he's been in and he's training away, and it's looking positive."

Crusaders: 1-Joe Moody, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 4-Quinten Strange, 5-Sam Whitelock, 6-Whetu Douglas, 7-Billy Harmon, 8-Kieran Read, 9-Mitch Drummond, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-George Bridge, 12-Ryan Crotty, 13-Braydon Ennor, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-David Havili

Reserves: 16-Ben Funnell, 17-Harry Allan, 18-Oliver Jager, 19-Mitchell Dunshea, 20-Jordan Taugua, 21-Ereatara Enari, 22-Mitchell Hunt, 23-Ngane Punivai


Join us at 7:30pm Friday for live updates of the Crusaders v Lions Super Rugby clash.