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Faingaa, Fruean in face-off

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Jim Morton

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The Breakdown: Crusaders on the move

After an emotional week of rugby, the Reds are set to clash with season favourites the Crusaders, and the Tahs are desperate for a win in Canberra.

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QUEENSLAND defensive missile Anthony Faingaa has the Crusaders' destructive Mr T lookalike Robbie Fruean in his sights in a timely starting return for Sunday's clash of last year's Super Rugby finalists.

Wallabies centre Faingaa hasn't started since the Reds' round one escape act against the Waratahs but must quickly shake off his long injury lay-off when he lines up against Fruean at a sold-out Rugby League Park in Christchurch.

The mohawked Crusaders midfielder is in the best form of his career playing alongside All Blacks maestro Dan Carter and was a two-try hero against the Waratahs in Sydney last weekend.

Tough ask ... Anthony Faingaa will line-up against Robbie Fruean on Sunday night.

Tough ask ... Anthony Faingaa will line-up against Robbie Fruean on Sunday night. Photo: Getty Images

The fast-rushing, low-tackling defence of Faingaa will be key as the Crusaders seek to avenge last year's grand final loss.

''That's his forte,'' said coach Ewen McKenzie, who described his influence as massive. ''And there's the confidence and the talk. You just can't buy that experience in the big moments.''

Sonny Bill Williams's defection to the Chiefs has seen Carter start his season at inside-centre, greatly benefiting 104-kilogram outside-centre Fruean, who has crossed for six tries this season.

"The mohawked Crusaders midfielder is in the best form of his career."

"The mohawked Crusaders midfielder is in the best form of his career." Photo: Hagen Hopkins

''He [Fruean] has been outstanding,'' Faingaa said. ''I've been looking at all his stats … he's made [the fourth] most line breaks in Super Rugby at the moment.

''He runs well, he's big, he's strong. He's everything you want in a centre so it's going to be a tough time but I'll do my best.''

While playmaker Quade Cooper has headed the Reds' long injury-list this year, McKenzie stressed the absence of Faingaa, his twin Saia and their scything tackles couldn't be under-estimated.

''Their grass-cutting tackles have been very important for us and we have missed their consistency in that area,'' he said.

The pair appear on the same team sheet for the first time this year with hooker Saia returning from an ankle problem.

Young guns Jake Schatz and Dom Shipperley were both rewarded for their form this season as McKenzie starts with them ahead of Wallabies Radike Samo and Rod Davies.

AAP

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Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
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Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
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RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
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Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
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RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
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