Cruden to make Chiefs comeback
Dunedin - All Blacks flyhalf Aaron Cruden will make his Super Rugby comeback for the Chiefs from the bench on Friday after suffering an unsettling neck injury during the second Test against Wales.
Cruden, who was not considered for the third Test in Dunedin last Saturday, has been named among the replacements for the Chiefs (42 points) for their clash with the table-topping Crusaders (45) in Suva, Fiji.
Former All Blacks flyhalf Stephen Donald, who led an understrength Chiefs side to a 40-7 thrashing of Wales' midweek team on their tour of New Zealand, will start the game instead.
Cruden was taken to hospital following a tackle by Wales' Luke Charteris in Wellington, where the lock rolled over the top of him and caused the flyhalf's neck to 'crack'.
He was cleared of serious injury but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen chose not to risk him for the third game in Dunedin with Beauden Barrett starting instead.
Cruden's fellow All Blacks Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Seta Tamanivalu and Damian McKenzie will all start the game, with Nathan Harris and Tawera Kerr-Barlow also on the bench.
McKenzie was the only player not used by Hansen in the series sweep of Wales with Cane and Retallick playing for significant periods of all three games in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.
Charlie Ngatai, the eighth Chiefs player named in the All Blacks squad, missed the entire series due to lingering concussion symptoms. He was not considered by coach Dave Rennie for Friday's game.
Chiefs hooker Hikawera Elliott will make his 100th Super Rugby appearance for the side. He also played one season for the Hurricanes.
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Anton
Lienert-Brown, 11 James Lowe, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Tom
Sanders, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic
Bird, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Kane Hames
Substitutes: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18 Atu
Moli, 19 Mitchell Brown, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22
Aaron Cruden, 23 Sam McNicol
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 David Havili, 11
Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7
Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen
Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19
Jimmy Tupou, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23