Newcomers get chance with Crusaders

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Lynn McConnell     14 Jun 2018     Getty Images

Four players, Hamish Dalzell, Rameka Poihipi, Sam Beard and Caleb Makene, are all from the Canterbury Mitre 10 Cup wider training squad named on Monday while Tasman prop Ryan Coxon and former Chiefs hooker Seb Siataga are also included.

The team will be captained by halfback Mitch Drummond.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said the opportunity to play the French Barbarians, and another game against the Force in Perth next week, meant players who had been training with the side could have games during the June window while they provided game time for those in the squad not involved in Tests, especially with the Super Rugby bye tied into their programme.

"There're a lot of young guys who are playing for potential contracts next year for the Crusaders and for us they've trained a lot and hard for us and now it's a chance for them to wear it [the jersey] and get a game," he said.

"The French Barbarians are a team that is a little bit of the unknown but [they have] that French flair they can create, there's a lot of experience in the group they've named and there's youth as well so they'll be well-matched teams," he said.

The coaches had some idea of what to expect having seen footage of a recent game the Barbarians played against Georgia.

"There's always a bit of excitement when you've got the French touring so it's a good Friday night match and a chance for us to play in front of our people," he said.

Whetu Douglas has been named on the bench in the side. Robertson explained that Hamish Bedwell-Curtis was suffering a hip injury and Douglas, who is signed for the Crusaders next year after a stint in Italy, was in Christchurch to prepare for the Mitre 10 Cup programme with Canterbury and was keen to get some game time.

"He's a familiar face and he knows the systems and structures and he's slotted in after a couple of trainings so it's perfect," he said.

Among those not considered were, Tim Bateman who has a hamstring injury, David Havili who is resting a high ankle sprain and Seta Tamanivalu who has had a blow to his knee.

New second five-eighths Rameka Hohipi played in the New Zealand Under-20s trials and was a player they were watching with an eye to a contract next year, Robertson said.

The five-eighths could kick and play and would give the Crusaders some depth in the future.

The Crusaders team is: 1.Donald Brighouse, 2.Andrew Makalio, 3.Michael Alaalatoa, 4.Quinten Strange, 5.Hamish Dalzell, 6.Mitchell Dunshea, 7.Billy Harmon, 8.Ethan Blackadder, 9.Mitchell Drummond (captain), 10.Mike Delany, 11.Jone Macilai, 12.Rameka Pohipi, 13.Tima Faingaanuku, 14.Israel Dagg, 15.Mitchell Hunt.

Substitutes: 16.Seb Siataga, 17.Ryan Coxon, 18.Chris King, 19.Luke Romano, 20.Whetu Douglas, 21.Jack Stratton, 22.Sam Beard, 23.Caleb Makene.