Codie Taylor will lead the Crusaders in their Vodacom Super Rugby Aotearoa opener against the Hurricanes on Sunday in the injury-enforced absence of captain Scott Barrett.
The Crusaders had a bye in week one and will thus make their Super Rugby Aotearoa debut this week away to the Canes in Wellington, but they will make the trip without newly-instated captain Barrett.
The All Blacks lock suffered a foot injury, giving Taylor the opportunity lead the Crusaders for the first time, having previously been the side’s vice-captain.
Elsewhere, the Crusaders welcome former captain Sam Whitelock back to their ranks. Whitelock was initially set to miss Super Rugby in 2020 after a move to Japan, but the Covid-19 pandemic has seen him return in the red and black jersey for Super Rugby Aotearoa.
There is also a return, albeit from the bench, for David Havili, after emergency bowel surgery had ruled him out indefinitely back in March.
Crusaders – 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (c), 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 David Havili, 23 Leicester Faingaanuku.
Photo: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images