Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has named a strong starting line-up for their derby against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.
Robertson’s run-on side has eight alterations to the one which did duty against the Chiefs in Christchurch last weekend and it includes the return of four All Blacks.
Owen Franks, Matt Todd and George Bridge all return from rest weeks for this game, while Sam Whitelock will captain the side for the first time in 2019, returning to partner Scott Barrett at lock.
It’s a new starting front-row for the champions this week with George Bower, fresh from his debut against the Chiefs, set to earn his first Super Rugby start at loosehead prop.
The hookers will swap for this game with Codie Taylor to wear the number two jersey and Andrew Makalio moving to the bench, while Franks’ return sees Michael Alaalatoa shift to the reserves.
This will be Franks’ 150th game for the Crusaders (149th Super Rugby game) and he will lead the side out on to Forsyth Barr Stadium to mark the occasion.
The return of Todd is the only change to the loose forward trio this week.
In the back line, the scrum-halves swap for this game, so that Bryn Hall wears the number nine jersey and Ereatara Enari provides cover on the bench. George Bridge’s return sees Braydon Ennor shift to the right wing, and David Havili will start at full-back, in place of Will Jordan.
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Braydon Ennor, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Ere Enari, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Will Jordan
Date: Saturday, March 16 Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin Kick-off: 19:35 (06:.35 GMT) Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand) Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand) TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
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