The Crusaders have named a star-studded side for their highly anticipated New Zealand derby against the undefeated Chiefs on Saturday.
After losing the opening match of the season 31-10 to the Chiefs in Christchurch, the Crusaders have a chance to avenge that defeat in round 10.
Coach Scott Robertson has made three changes to the run-on XV, while Sam Whitelock has also been named for his 350th first-class appearance.
Replacement Quinten Strange is also in line for his 50th appearance in a Crusaders jersey, as he looks to provide some impact off the bench at FMG Stadium.
Cullen Grace is the one change in the forward pack, with the 23-year-old set to pack down in the backrow alongside Dominic Gardiner and Tom Christie.
But arguably the most exciting inclusion for the Crusaders this week is Leicester Fainga’anuku on the left wing, while Dallas McLeod has earnt a start in the No. 14 jumper.
“Dallas has deserved it hasn’t he, he’s earnt it,” coach Scott Robertson said in a statement.
“He’s tough and resilient in the midfield, and when we’ve put him on the wing he’s been great.
“He’s good in the air, he’s a great defender, he’s trained well, and we’re just really pleased for him.”
Following a significant stint on the sidelines, prop Oliver Jager is in line to return this week after being named on the bench.
“Oli is important to us, a great player on and off the field,” Robertson added.
“It’s important to have that little bit of depth with Fletcher (Newell) going early. He’s worked hard and for him to come back now, yeah, the timing is perfect.”
Crusaders team to take on Chiefs
- Joe Moody
- Codie Taylor
- Tamaiti Williams
- Scott Barrett (c)
- Sam Whitelock
- Dominic Gardiner
- Tom Christie
- Cullen Grace
- Mitchell Drummond
- Richie Mo’unga
- Leicester Fainga’anuku
- David Havili
- Braydon Ennor
- Dallas McLeod
- Fergus Burke
- Brodie McAlister
- Finlay Brewis
- Oliver Jager
- Quinten Strange
- Christian Lio-Willie
- Willi Heinz
- Jack Goodhue
- Macca Springer