Crusaders not focusing on slim playoff chance

Ethan Blackadder. Photo: Getty Images
Ethan Blackadder. Photo: Getty Images
The Crusaders will be back on home turf this weekend - but they know the fate of their season is now out of their hands.

The red-and-blacks play the table-topping Blues on Saturday night at Apollo Projects Stadium knowing anything less than a win will end their slim playoff hopes.

Even then, they’ll be relying on the eighth-placed Fijian Drua to lose to the Highlanders on Sunday in Dunedin.

“There’s still a chance,’’ assistant coach Matt Todd said during the week.

“While there’s still a mathematical chance on the table, certainly it’s our goal.

“We know we probably need help from other teams, but we’ll worry about what we can control and put all our focus into that.’’

This week they welcome back flanker Ethan Blackadder and centre Levi Aumua to the starting lineup, while Tamaiti Williams and Dallas McLeod come onto the bench, the quartet all returning from injury.

Captain Scott Barrett is not fit to play, continuing his recovery from a back injury sustained against the Reds two weeks ago.

The Blues will confirm top spot with a win if the Hurricanes lose to the Chiefs on Friday night.

  • Kick-off is at 7.05pm

LINE-UP: Johnny McNicholl, Chay Fihaki, Levi Aumua, David Havili, Sevu Reece, Fergus Burke, Noah Hotham, Christian Lio-Willie, Cullen Grace, Quinten Strange, Antonio Shalfoon, Fletcher Newell, Codie Taylor (c), Joe Moody. BENCH: George Bell, George Bower, Tamaiti Williams, Jamie Hannah, Tom Christie, Mitchell Drummond, Taha Kemara, Dallas McLeod.