Queensland clap back at Kiwi rugby heckling

CRUSADERS vs REDS, Friday 5.05pm AEST in Christchurch

Co-captain Liam Wright returns to the Reds starting XV as Queensland embrace their rank outsider status against the Crusaders in the opening Super Rugby quarter final.

Wright, who will start at openside flanker ahead of Fraser McReight, made a successful comeback from an ankle injury in last weekend’s 28-15 loss to the red-and-blacks in Christchurch.

Fellow forwards Harry Hoopert and Angus Blyth also return to the run-on side while coach Brad Thorn welcomes back Wallabies center Hunter Paisami from a shoulder injury by naming him on the bench.

Watch every game of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific finals, streaming ad free, live and on demand only on Stan Sport. Sign up for your free seven day trial!

Wright’s co-captain, halfback Tate McDermott, said a week in Canterbury had further steeled Queensland’s $8.50 with the bookmakers resolve.

“No one is giving us a chance and it’s something we’ve really bounced off,” McDermott said.

“Everywhere you go someone is throwing a bit of chat or wanting a photo. It’s good to be in a rugby town and guys like Fraser enjoy heckling back.”

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The Crusaders, meanwhile, have boosted their ranks with the return of All Blacks trio Richie Mo’unga, Codie Taylor and Jack Goodhue.

“Finals footy is a really special time, but it’s also a whole new level, so we’re going to have to step up if we want to earn ourselves another week in this competition,” Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said.

“Both sides will have learned a bit about one another last week, and it’s a pretty unique scenario to have back-to-back games against the same opposition. This is knockout rugby though, and Queensland know what it’s like to play in these big games, so we’re taking nothing for granted with our preparation this week and we’re going to need our fans right behind us in the stands for this one.”

CRUSADERS (15-1): Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Cullen Grace, Ethan Blackadder, Pablo Matera, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett (c), Oli Jager, Codie Taylor, George bower

Reservations: Brodie McAlister, Finlay Brewis, Fletcher Newell, Zach Gallagher, Tom Christie, Mitch Drummond, Braydon Ennor, George Bridge

REDS (15-1): Jock Campbell, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jordan Petaia, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, Lawson Creighton, Tate McDermott (co-c), Harry Wilson, Liam Wright (co-c), Seru Uru, Angus Blyth, Ryan Smith, Feao Fotuaika, Matt Faessler, Harry Hoopert

Reservations: Richie Asiata, Dane Zander, Sef Fa’agase, Connor Vest, Angus Scott-Young, Fraser McReight, Kalani Thomas, Hunter Paisami

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CHIEFS vs WARATAHS, Saturday 2.35pm AEST in Hamilton

The Waratahs have been boosted by the return of prop Harry Johnson-Holmes for Saturday’s clash with the Chiefs.

Johnson-Holmes will start after recovering from a knee injury in the only change to the starting side that lost to the Blues.

“It’s great to have Harry back in the team, he was one of our strongest and consistent performers prior to his injury and adds a significant work rate on the field,” Waratahs coach Darren Coleman said.

“Langi (Gleeson) was outstanding against the Highlanders and we’re looking for a similar impact from him off the bench, alongside Hugh Sinclair and Jeremy Williams.

The six-two bench (forwards-backs split) seems to be working for us, it gives us the ability to make some early tactical substitutions and the security if we pick up an injury late in the game.”

CHIEFS (TBC)

WARATAHS (15-1): Ben Donaldson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Alex Newsome, Lalakai Foketi, Dylan Pietsch, Tane Edmed, Jake Gordon (c), Will Harris, Michael Hooper, Charlie Gamble, Ned Hanigan, Jed Holloway, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Dave Porecki, Angus Bell

Reservations: Tom Horton, Paddy Ryan, Archer Holz, Hugh Sinclair, Jeremy Williams, Langi Gleeson, Jack Grant, Jamie Roberts

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BLUES vs HIGHLANDERS, Saturday 5.05pm AEST in Auckland

BLUES (TBC)

HIGHLANDERS (TBC)

BRUMBIES vs HURRICANES, Saturday 7.45pm AEST in Canberra

The Brumbies will again be without star flanker Rob Valetini for Saturday’s home quarter final as the Canberra club announced the impending departure of four stars.

Valetini remains sidelined with a knee injury while the Brumbies confirmed Scott Sio, Tom Banks, Folau Fainga’a and Irae Simone will leave the club at the end of the season.

“We’re in a good place heading into what will be a fantastic game on Saturday night,” Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.

“The Hurricanes have threats across the park, and we’ll need to be at our best to win and we’ve put in a great week’s prep so far to go and do that.

“We’ve had a big five weeks and didn’t get it right last weekend, but given we were a couple seconds from beating the Blues and had been getting good results before that Crusaders match. We’re confident and excited to get back in front of our members, fans and families Saturday night.”

BRUMBIES (15-1): Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Andy Muirhead, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Pete Samu, Luke Reimer, Tom Hooper, Caderyn Neville, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper

Reservations: Lachlan Lonergan, Scott Sio, Sefo Kautai, Nick Frost, Rory Scott, Jahrome Brown, Ryan Lonergan, Ollie Sapsford

HURRICANES (TBC)

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