Whitelock to lift Saders

All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock is the only change to the Crusaders team to face the Highlanders in Christchurch on Saturday.

Whitelock was a late withdrawal from last week's team but has recovered in time to start this crucial clash which will decide the outcome of the New Zealand conference.

Daniel Carter will remain at inside centre, while Colin Slade gets another chance at flyhalf despite a scratchy performance in last weekend's 21-13 win over the Blues.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will once again watch on from the stands as he continues his recovery from a fractured rib he suffered during New Zealand's series victory over England.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders were dealt a massive blow after co-captain Ben Smith was ruled out of his first match in over two years with a leg infection. Trent Renata will deputise at fullback while Hayden Parker has been given the nod over Lima Sopoaga at flyhalf.

There are two changes to the forward pack where Liam Coltman re-joins the starting XV as hooker with Chris King coming in at tighhead prop.

Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Kieron Fonotia, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Johnny McNicholl.

Highlanders – 15 Trent Renata, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (c), 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Subs: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 JP Koen, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Phil Burleigh.

Photo: Simon Watts/Getty Images