Leigh Halfpenny set to make Super Rugby Pacific debut

Leigh Halfpenny. Photo: Getty Images
Leigh Halfpenny. Photo: Getty Images
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 in Christchurch.

Halfpenny will start at fullback on Saturday after recovering from a pectoral injury suffered in pre-season. His selection means the backline that started the Crusaders’ 39-0 win over the Rebels last Friday will be re-shuffled.

Johnny McNicholl shifts to the right wing, while Sevu Reece slides to the left, and Heremaia Murray misses out after a good game last week.

David Havili is set to start at first-five in place of Rivez Reihana. Havili, 29, said last week he hoped experience in the No 10 jersey might enhance his All Blacks selection chances.

The rest of the team is unchanged with coach Rob Penney sticking to the same forward pack which dominated the Rebels’ scrum, won six penalties and forced the visitors to completely change their front-row after just 30min.

The Reds pushed the Blues close last week, losing by just seven points, but the Queensland side are in somewhat of a rut. They have won only one of their last five games and sit sixth on the ladder, while the Crusaders are ninth.

•Kick-off at Apollo Projects Stadium is at 4.35pm.


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