October 3, 2023

Super Rugby team naming: Blackadder, Goodhue return for Crusaders opener

Ethan Blackadder & Jack Goodhue in action for Crusaders.

Official team lists and injury news for this week’s round of Super Rugby Pacific and Super Rugby Aupiki.

Super Rugby Pacific

Crusaders v Chiefs

7:05pm Friday, February 24

Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

Veteran lock Sam Whitelock will miss the Crusaders’ season-opener with concussion, replaced in the second row by Mitch Dunshea.

Wing/fullback Will Jordan is also sidelined by the inner ear condition that saw him withdraw from the All Blacks end-of-year tour to Europe.  In this place, David Havili will shift back to the No.15 jersey that first earnt him international selection in 2017.

Loose forward Ethan Blackadder and midfielder Jack Goodhue will return, after missing most of last season with injuries, while Macca Springer and former Highlander Christian Lio-Willie are poised to make their Crusaders debuts off the bench. 

Crusaders: 1-Joe Moody, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Fletcher Newell, 4-Scott Barrett (c), 5-Mitch Dunshea, 6-Ethan Blackadder, 7-Tom Christie, 8-Cullen Grace, 9-Mitch Drummond, 10-Richie Mo’unga, 11-Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12-Jack Goodhue, 13-Baydon Ennor, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-David Havili

Replacements: 16-Brodie McAlister, 17-George Bower, 18-Tamaiti Williams, 19-Zach Gallagher, 20-Christian Lio-Willie, 21-Fergus Burke, 22-Macca Springer

Damian McKenzie has been handed the No.10 jersey for the Chiefs’ Super Rugby Pacific opener, travelling to face the reigning champions, the Crusaders.

McKenzie, 27, makes his first Super Rugby start since 2021, after spending last year playing in Japan.

And while the versatile playmaker’s time with the Chiefs has been split between first-five and fullback, coach Clayton McMillan has backed McKenzie at No.10 to start the season.

McKenzie is one of a host of All Blacks named for the Chiefs’ opener, with 10 of the starting XV boasting test experience, with another – Josh Ioane – on the bench.

In the front row, the impressive Samisoni Taukei’aho starts at hooker after a breakthrough season with the All Blacks last year, flanked by Aidan Ross and George Dyer as the two starting props.

Brodie Retallick and Tupou Vaa’i form an all-international locking pair, while the loose forward trio of Pita Gus Sowakula, co-captain Sam Cane and Luke Jacobson are also capped All Blacks.

Co-captain Brad Weber starts at halfback alongside McKenzie, as another test pairing.

In midfield, All Black Anton Lienert-Brown starts at second-five, alongside Alex Nankivell – playing his final season in New Zealand before a move to Munster.

On the bench, Ireland prop John Ryan has been named for his maiden Super Rugby appearance, after signing to replace Angus Ta’avao, injured for the entire 2023 campaign.

Chiefs: 1-Aidan Ross, 2-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 3-George Dyer, 4-Brodie Retallick, 5-Tupou Vaa’i, 6-Pita Gus Sowakula, 7-Sam Cane (cc), 8-Luke Jacobson, 9-Brad Weber (cc), 10-Damian McKenzie, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Anton Lienert-Brown, 13-Alex Nankivell, 14-Solomon Alaimalo, 15-Shaun Stevenson

Reserves: 16-Bradley Slater, 17-Ollie Norris, 18-John Ryan, 19-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20-Samipeni Finau, 21-Cortez Ratima, 22-Josh Ioane, 23-Rameka Poihipi

Highlanders v Blues

7:05pm Saturday, February 25

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin


Reds v Hurricanes

9:35pm Saturday, February 25

Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville


Super Rugby Aupiki

Hurricanes Poua v Chiefs Manawa

2:05pm Saturday, February 25

Levin Domain


Matatū v Blues

4:45pm Saturday, February 25

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin


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