The Crusaders have made three changes and retained Willi Heinz at halfback for their Super Rugby match against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Heinz will wear the No.9 jersey for a second successive game on Saturday after he pushed former All Black Andy Ellis to the bench for last weekend’s 52-31 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The only change in the backline comes at centre, where Kieron Fonotia is ruled out by a hamstring injury and replaced by the versatile Tom Taylor.
All Blacks tighthead prop Owen Franks is promoted from the reserves bench to start ahead of Nepo Laulala while blindside flanker George Whitelock is replaced by Jordan Taufua.
Whitelock is dropped completely, with younger brother Luke coming onto the bench as loose-forward cover, alongside brother Adam, who is introduced as outside backs cover.
It was hoped All Blacks captain Richie McCaw would have recovered from a thumb injury in time to play the defending champions but the flanker is now targeting a return in two weeks against the Brumbies, along with All Blacks lock Luke Romano (calf).
Two wins in South Africa has lifted the Crusaders to seventh overall, six points behind the third-placed Chiefs, who lead New Zealand conference.
Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Johnny McNicholl, Tom Taylor, Ryan Crotty, Nemani Nadolo, Colin Slade, Willi Heinz, Kieran Read (capt), Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock, Dominic Bird, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Tim Perry, Nepo Laulala, Jimmy Tupou, Luke Whitelock, Andy Ellis, Tyler Bleyendaal, Adam Whitelock