Whitelock leads powerful Crusaders into battle
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has named a strong starting XV for the New Zealand derby match against the Chiefs, including nine All Blacks with 281 test caps between them.
The Crusaders will be led by captain Samuel Whitelock and vice-captains Matt Todd and Ryan Crotty.
There are just two changes from the side that played their final pre-season match against the Highlanders in Waimumu last Thursday.
Luke Romano joins the starting line up this week and will lead the team to field for what will be his 100th match for the Crusaders. Scott Barrett will provide locking cover on the bench. In the backs, George Bridge will start on the left wing, having spent some time at fullback during the pre-season.
Billy Harmon could be set to earn his first Super Rugby cap on Saturday if called upon in the reserves. The 23-year-old loose forward, who has 20 provincial caps for Canterbury to his name, will take a spot on the bench.
Another familiar face returns to the matchday 23 this week in former Crusaders and Highlanders prop, Chris King, who will wear the No.17 jersey.
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Peter Samu, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Chris King, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Billy Harmon, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Date: Saturday, February 24
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)