Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has made several changes to his starting team as they prepare to face the Southern Kings in a Super Rugby clash in Christchurch on Saturday (08:35 SA time).
The Crusaders mentor has rested All Blacks captain-in-waiting Kieran Read and fellow internationals Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Andy Ellis ahead of the road trip to South Africa.
Prop Wyatt Crockett and hooker Ben Funnell will start at No 1 and 2 for the first time this season, having come off the bench in the previous two games.
Playing their first game of the season will be lock Luke Romano, loose forward Matt Todd, scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond and fullback Marty McKenzie.
David Havili steps into the inside centre position this week instead of fullback, while Kieron Fonotia shifts out to outside centre. Johnny McNicholl and Nemani Nadolo start on the wings.
Hooker Ged Robinson may earn his first Crusaders cap if he comes off the bench on Saturday, and All Black centre Ryan Crotty is also looking for his first run of 2016 after recovering from his thumb injury to take a spot among the substitutes.
Kings captain Steven Sykes said the players were settling in well after their long journey to New Zealand and had had a productive training session on Thursday.
Sykes said the team was expecting a tough game against the Crusaders.
“I told the team that this is probably going to be the toughest game of the competition. The Crusaders are a great team, In all my years playing, I have never played against a weak Crusaders team,” he said.
15 Marty McKenzie, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 David Havili, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jimmy Tupou, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Jone Macilai
15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates (vc), 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 CJ Velleman, 21 Ntando Kebe,
22 Elgar Watts, 23 JP Du Plessis