Crusaders pack All Black power for Lions clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Crusaders have turned their clash with the British and Irish Lions on Saturday into a dress rehearsal for the All Blacks tight five ahead of the first Test.
The Super Rugby competition leaders have named an All Blacks front row with Joe Moody, Owen Franks and Codie Taylor, along with locks Samuel Whitelock and Luke Romano.
They spearhead a squad containing nine All Blacks including a third prop, Wyatt Crockett, on the bench.
Israel Dagg, included in the 33-man New Zealand Test squad to face Samoa and the Lions announced on Thursday, will start at fullback.
Adding to the Crusaders depth is eight-Test flank Matt Todd, who is on standby as injury cover for the Lions series, and three-Test wing Seta Tamanivalu who missed the cut this year.
Coach Scott Robertson predicted a "fantastic clash".
"This is a huge and exciting challenge for us," he said.
"We are facing some of the best rugby players in the world, but we have some of the world's best in this team too, so it will be a fantastic clash.
"No matter how it unfolds, this will be a game that the players involved will remember as one of the special moments in their careers."
The only changes to the Crusaders team that maintained their unbeaten Super Rugby record last week against the Highlanders sees a rotation at scrumhalf with Bryn Hall starting, a switch to inside centre for David Havili, Dagg at fullback, and Tim Bateman on the bench.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody,
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Tim Bateman.
Date: Saturday, June 10
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19.35 (08.35 UK & Ireland time; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Pascal Gauzère (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)