Coach Scott Robertson has made some interesting selections in the second row, at flyhalf and at inside centre for the Crusaders’ next clash against the Sharks.
Several All Blacks are unavailable for the reigning champions this week due to rest protocols. Nevertheless, the Crusaders will fancy their chances against a misfiring Sharks side in Christchurch.
Robertson has opted for a new second-row combination in Mitch Dunshea and Scott Barrett. Matt Todd will lead the team in the absence of Sam Whitelock, who is one of the players who have been granted a rest.
Richie Mo’unga and Ryan Crotty are the other notable All Blacks absentees. Mitch Hunt will start at 10, while Jack Goodhue, usually a No 13, will start at No 12.
First-choice scrumhalf Bryn Hall returns and the exciting young Will Jordan will get a start at fullback.
The game will mark Kieran Read’s 150th Super Rugby match.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Tim Bateman.
Photo: Craig Morrison / www.photosport.nz