Captain Dave Dennis will start at No. 8 as the HSBC Waratahs bid to record their first win in Canterbury since 2004 this Friday.
The absence of Wycliff Palu, who failed to recover from a knock to the knee in last week’s game, has seen Head Coach Michael Cheika reshuffle his back row, with Pat McCutcheon coming in to the starting XV on the blindside flank.
In the backline, Cheika has reverted to the halves and midfield combinations that brought success against the Brumbies two weeks ago, starting scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin and inside centre Rob Horne and naming Matt Lucas and Berrick Barnes on the bench.
Fully recovered from a corked thigh, wing Cam Crawford returns to the starting side in place of Drew Mitchell.
A medial ligament injury to Mitchell Chapman, sustained at training earlier in the week, will see the Eastern Suburbs forward ruled out for six weeks. Instead, Southern Districts’ youngster Jed Holloway will provide back row cover. If 20-year-old former Yamba Buccaneer takes the field, he will make his NSW debut. The game will also mark the 50th Super Rugby appearance of hooker John Ulugia.
The squad travels to Christchurch tomorrow ahead of Friday’s Super Rugby Round 16 match against the Crusaders. In the 19 previous meetings between the sides, NSW has won just four and has lost the last 10. The HSBC Waratahs last won in Christchurch back in February 2004, when the Phil Waugh-captained side recorded a convincing 43-19 victory over the Cantabrian side.
HSBC Waratahs team to play the Crusaders
Friday May 31, 2013 (5.35pm AEST)?AMI Stadium, Christchurch
1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)?2. John Ulugia (Eastern Suburbs)?3. Sekope Kepu (Randwick)?4. Sitaleki Timani (Southern Districts) ?5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts) ?6. Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University)?7. Michael Hooper (Manly) ?8. Dave Dennis (Sydney University, captain)?9. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs) ?10. Bernard Foley (Sydney University)?11. Peter Betham (Sydney University)?12. Rob Horne (Southern Districts) ?13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs) ?14. Cam Crawford (Northern Suburbs)?15. Israel Folau (Sydney University)
?16. Luke Holmes (Warringah)?17. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University) ?18. Will Skelton (Sydney University)?19. Jed Holloway (Southern Districts)?20. Matt Lucas (Manly) ?21. Berrick Barnes (Sydney University)?22. Drew Mitchell (Balmain)