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.PT0M0S 620 349
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. 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." 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.