Matt Todd will captain the Crusaders in their first pre-season match against the Highlanders in Timaru on Friday.
The game will be played in four quarters with rolling substitutions.
'The pre-season is starting to feel long to the players by about now,' said Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder. 'They’ve been pushed to their limits by trainers and coaches since before Christmas and now they’re just really looking forward to playing some actual rugby.
'For us, this is going to be a really useful opportunity to see how the players fare under some game pressure and to learn about what our key work-ons should be for the remainder of the pre-season.'
The Crusaders team to play in Timaru is made up of current squad members, wider training group members and some players who have been involved in the pre-season as part of the franchise's apprenticeship system.
The Saders will play two other pre-season games – against the Hurricanes in Eketahuna on 31 January and the Reds in Brisbane on 6 February.
Crusaders – 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Jone Macalai, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Nathaniel Apa, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Subs: Ben Funnell, Daniel Lienert–Brown, Sione Faletau, Dominic Bird, Jordan Taufua, Billy Guyton, Robbie Fruean, Ged Robinson, Rob Thompson, Reed Prinsep, George Bridges, Michael Green, Willi Heinz, Milford Keresoma, Luke Romano, Jed Brown, Luteru Laulala.
Photo: Joseph Johnson/Getty Images