Crusaders vs Chiefs, Blues vs Brumbies

The Brumbies will be without Len Ikitau for Saturday’s Super Rugby semi final against the Blues after the Wallabies centre was handed a three week suspension for his high tackle against the Hurricanes.

However, Ikitau is set to only miss two games after SANZAAR said Ikitau had been granted permission to undertake a “coaching intervention” to address the “technical tackle/contact technique error that caused or contributed to the foul play.”

Read on for all the latest semi final team news.

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CRUSADERS vs CHIEFS, Friday 5.05pm AEST in Christchurch

All Blacks flanker Sam Cane has been named on the Chiefs bench for the opening Super Rugby semi final.

Cane missed two games with a knee injury sustained against the Force when Pumas prop Santiago Medrano dived into his leg.

“Yeah, pretty unhappy,” Cane told Stuff when asked about the incident.

“Directly in the side and sort of targeting lower limbs – we’ve seen in league anything round those areas have been ruled out. The refs told me there’s nothing they can rule on, it’s not classed as foul play so the TMO can’t interfere.

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“But it’s not a nice feeling having your knee buckling like that, and I’m probably lucky it wasn’t worse off when I look at the footage, it buckled a long way in.”

The only change to the Chiefs starting lineup is Josh Ioane slotting in at fullback for an ill Emoni Narawa.

The Crusaders have also made just one change with openside flanker Tom Christie replacing the injured Ethan Blackadder (shoulder).

CRUSADERS (15-1): Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Cullen Grace, Tom Christie, Pablo Matera, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett (c), Oli Jager, Codie Taylor, George Bower

Reserves: Brodie McAlister, Tamaiti Williams, Fletcher Newell, Zach Gallagher, Corey Kellow, Mitch Drummond, Braydon Ennor, George Bridge

CHIEFS (15-1): Josh Ioane, Jonah Lowe, Alex Nankivell, Quinn Tupaea, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Bryn Gatland, Brad Weber (c), Pita Gus Sowakula, Luke Jacobson, Samipeni Finau, Tupou Vaa’i, Brodie Retallick, Angus Ta’avao, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross

Reserves: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Sam Cane, Xavier Roe, Rameka Poihipi, Chase Tiatia

Referee: Nic Berry (AUS)

BLUES vs BRUMBIES, Saturday 5.05pm AEST in Auckland

The Brumbies have received mixed news for their Super Rugby semi final with Wallabies bruiser Rob Valetini returning from a hamstring injury to start at No.8, while Test centre Len Ikitau has been ruled out with suspension.

Valetini’s return has triggered a back row reshuffle with Pete Samu switching to openside flanker and Luke Reimer dropping to the bench.

That allows young Tom Hooper to retain his place on the blindside after an outstanding performance in the quarter final win over the Hurricanes.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar compared Hooper’s physique to Wallabies great Owen Finegan in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

“His form has been exceptional and he will play for Australia,” McKellar said.

“I think we have to be careful not to rush guys but what he’s doing is that he is going well against quality opposition. He was outstanding against the Blues, he was outstanding against the Crusaders and very good against the Hurricanes when he took it upon himself to physically dominate Ardie Savea. Not many do that.”

Ollie Sapsford replaces Ikitau in the centres.

Meanwhile, the Blues have made three changes to their starting lineup.

Nepo Laulala replaces fellow All Blacks prop Ofa Tuungafasi, lock Josh Goodhue comes in for James Tucker and AJ Lam gets the nod on the right wing as Bryce Heem works his way through concussion protocols.

BLUES (15-1): Stephen Perofeta, AJ Lam, Rieko Ioane, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Mark Telea, Beauden Barrett (c), Finlay Christie, Hoskins Sotutu, Adrian Choat, Akira Ioane, Tom Robinson, Josh Goodhue, Nepo Laulala, Kurt Eklund, Alex Hodgman

Reserves: Soane Vikena, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Luke Romano, James Tucker, Sam Nock, Tamati Tua, Zarn Sullivan

BRUMBIES (15-1): Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Ollie Sapsford, Irae Simone, Andy Muirhead, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Pete Samu, Tom Hooper, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper

Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, Scott Sio, Sefo Kautai, Nick Frost, Luke Reimer, Jahrome Brown, Ryan Lonergan, Hudson Creighton

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZ)

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