Tamaiti Williams back as Crusaders search for their first win of season

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All Blacks prop Tamaiti Williams returns for the Crusaders’ crunch clash with arch-rivals the Blues at Eden Park, with both sides set to rock out in heritage jerseys for the Kiwi derby.

Williams, 23, picked up an injury during the Crusaders’ round one defeat to the Chiefs and has been out of action since.

But with the Crusaders still searching for their first win of the season – currently at a team record low of a 0-4 start – Williams’s inclusion in the starting side for round five is a timely boost.

spacer-new Tamaiti Williams back as Crusaders search for their first win of season

Coach Rob Penney has also made two changes to the side that went down swinging in a thriller with the still-undefeated Hurricane last week, with lock Jamie Hannah also coming into the First XV.

Joining Tamaiti Williams in the front row are the reliable duo of George Bower and George Bell, while Quinten Strange and Jamie Hannah round out the Crusaders’ tight five.

Dominic Gardiner, the always-running Tom Christie will take a place on the flanks while in-form backrower Cullen Grace is set to line up at No. 8 once again.

Willi Heinz starts at halfback for the third week on the bounce and will partner Riley Hohepa who started his first match for the Crusaders less than one week ago.

Captain David Havili joins Levi Aumua in the midfield, while Macca Springer, Sevu Reece and Chay Fihaki make up a familiar outside backs combination.

There’s plenty of flair on the bench as well with coach Penney selecting an exciting mix of experience and youth.

Among the veterans, Joe Moody and Ryan Crotty will look to make an impact off the pine while youngsters Noah Hotham and Dallas McLeod will hope to do the same.

The Crusaders are winless from four matches to start the season for the first time in team history. Only time will tell as to whether this is the team that can break their winless run.

This New Zealand derby will get underway at 7.05 pm NZT at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday.

Crusaders team to take on Blues

  1. George Bower
  2. George Bell
  3. Tamaiti Williams
  4. Quinten Strange
  5. Jamie Hannah
  6. Dominic Gardiner
  7. Tom Christie
  8. Cullen Grace
  9. Willi Heinz
  10. Riley Hohepa
  11. Macca Springer
  12. David Havili (c)
  13. Levi Aumua
  14. Sevu Reece
  15. Chay Fihaki

Reserves

  1. Ioane Moananu
  2. Joe Moody
  3. Seb Calder
  4. Tahlor Cahill
  5. Corey Kellow
  6. Noah Hotha,
  7. Ryan Crotty
  8. Dallas McLeod

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