All Blacks request prompts Crusaders backline reshuffle

Crusaders first five David Havili. Photo: Getty Images
Crusaders first five David Havili. Photo: Getty Images
The Crusaders have bowed to the All Blacks request to start David Havili in the No 10 jersey for Saturday's Super Rugby Pacific clash with the Queensland Reds in Christchurch.

Rob Penney.
Rob Penney.
Havili has filled the role occasionally before, when Robertson was coaching the Crusaders, and current coach Rob Penney said they had previously considered using him there this season - but the All Blacks request was the final prompt.

"We've talked about it often as a coaching group but it wasn't until the All Blacks confirmed that they were really interested to see him playing there that there was a shift... to go that way," Penney said.

"They have said if we can fit David in there (at first five) they would be really appreciative," he added.

"I think (the All Blacks) are very excited about having David Havilli in the mix, being able to play 10,12, 13 really effectively and 15 if required - he's such a versatile player - it makes an international bench really exciting.

"There's lots of positives for the New Zealand game, it's also really positive for David and positive for us."

The All Blacks first test of the year is against England in Dunedin on July 6.

Former Welsh international Leigh Halfpenny is poised to make his long-awaited Super Rugby Pacific debut for the Crusaders when they take on the Reds at Apollo Projects Stadium at 4.35pm in Christchurch.

Halfpenny suffered a chest injury in February playing a pre-season game for the Crusaders against Irish club Munster and needed surgery.

He will start at fullback and undertake the kicking duties.

"We can manage his game time and work load more effectively (by starting him) and he's been training the house down for the last six weeks and he's earned the right to slip into that 15 jersey."


Crusaders: Leigh Halfpenny, Johnny McNicholl, Levi Aumua, Dallas McLeod, Sevu Reece, David Havili, Mitchell Drummond, Christian Lio-Willie, Ethan Blackadder, Cullen Grace, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett (c), Fletcher Newell, Brodie McAlister, George Bower. BENCH: George Bell, Joe Moody, Owen Franks, Jamie Hannah, Corey Kellow, Noah Hotham, Rivez Reihana, Chay Fihaki.

Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Tim Ryan, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Mac Grealy, 10 Lawson Creighton, 9 Kalani Thomas, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (c), 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Peni Ravai. Bench: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Sef Fa'agase, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Connor Vest, 20 John Bryant, 21 Louis Werchon, 22 Harry McLaughlin-Philips, 23 Suliasi Vunivalu.