21 May 2015

Dagg back to fight for ABs spot

6:39 pm on 21 May 2015

The Crusaders have made five changes for their must-win match against the reigning champion New South Wales Waratahs, in Sydney on Saturday.

The Crusaders' fullback Israel Dagg in action.

The Crusaders' fullback Israel Dagg in action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg is set to return off the bench while hookers Ben Funnell and Codie Taylor rotate in the front row with Funnell starting, as does prop Owen Franks.

Dagg suffered a calf injury in the Crusaders' loss to the Highlanders last month, and he knows he'll need a good game despite the break.

Tom Taylor has performed well at fullback for the Crusaders, while Dagg will be keen to show his worth as the Highlanders fullback Ben Smith continues to cement his position as the best No.15 in the country.

Another All Black, Luke Romano, returns at lock and Richie McCaw is back at No.7.

The only change in the run-on backline is at halfback, with Mitchell Drummond starting for Andy Ellis.

The Crusaders know they're in playoff football now as they try to keep their slim title hopes alive.

Coach Todd Blackadder says they're all aware of the task ahead.

"We talked about that on Monday actually just what's the difference between a final and a normal round robin and you know every game for us is a final now."

"It's been a good week we're playing the Waratahs who were in last year's final so it's good for us we'll be well and truly motivated and it's going to be a good challenge."

The Cruasaders are in ninth place overall, but are fourth in the New Zealand conference, eight points behind the Chiefs and the Highlanders.

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