Whitelock trio for Crusaders
Christchurch - The Crusaders will feature three brothers in their line-up when they face the Blues in their opening round of the Vodacom Super Rugby in Auckland on Saturday.
According to the allblacks.com website, All Black lock Sam Whitelock will be joined by his siblings George and Adam the starting XV, while openside flank Matt Todd will make his debut in place of the injured Richie McCaw. McCaw underwent surgery on a stress fracture to his foot on Tuesday.
Fullback Israel Dagg, who missed the Crusaders' final pre-season hit-out with a thigh injury, will make his first start for the team after moving from the Highlanders.
Zac Guildford, who pulled a hamstring in the win over the Highlanders in Oamaru last week, has been replaced on the left wing by Tu Umaga-Marshall.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said the new format of the Super 15 meant derby matches would be crucial to his team's hopes.
"It's an exciting time and we're entering the unknown a little bit with the new format of the competition, but we are looking for a good performance against the Blues.
"These derby matches are very important with the new conference system and I hear there will be a big crowd at Eden Park so the atmosphere should be superb," he said.
15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Tom McCartney/Ash Dixon, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Filo Paulo, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Lachie Munro, 22 Sherwin Stowers
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Adam Whitelock, 11 Tu Umaga-Marshall, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Francis Smith, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Chris Jack, 19 Jonathan Poff, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Tom Marshall/Tyler Bleyendaal