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Romano to start Crusaders warm-up match

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/02/2017

All Blacks lock Luke Romano is a surprise inclusion in the Crusaders starting team for their pre-season match against the Highlanders in Darfield.

Romano was ruled out of next week's Brisbane Global Tens tournament with a "tight" hamstring, yet has earned selection for the season-opening game on Saturday.

The 30-year-old's last Test was off the bench against South Africa in Christchurch five months ago.

He was named for the subsequent northern hemisphere tour but returned home before a Test was played to attend a family bereavement.

Fellow lock Sam Whitelock and other All Blacks tourists won't play the warm-up match.

In Whitelock's absence, loose forward Jordan Taufua will be captain.

Coach Scott Robertson has named an extended 15-man bench.

Crusaders: Marty McKenzie, Manasa Mataele, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua (capt), Jed Brown, Pete Samu, Luke Romano, Mitchell Dunshea, Michael Alaalatoa, Ben Funnell, Tim Perry. Reserves: Nathan Vella, Andrew Makalio, Oliver Jager, Chris Gawler, Samu Tawake, Quinten Strange, Pari Pari Parkinson, Tom Christie, Whetu Douglas, Leon Fukofuka, Ereatara Enari, Mitchell Hunt, Sione Fifita, Tim Bateman, Sean Wainui, Inga Finau.

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