TYLER BLENYENDAAL will run at first five and Israel Dagg on the wing when the Crusaders play the Blues in their Super Rugby season-opener at Eden Park on Friday night.
Those two selections had been well signposted ahead of coach Todd Blackadder’s squad announcement.
Bleyendaal has won out over Tom Taylor for the right to run the cutter in the absence of injured All Blacks pivot Dan Carter.
His performance will be watched with interest and his battle with Michael Hobbs will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this match between New Zealand’s two heavyweight franchises.
He will have the benefit of being wedged between Andy Ellis and the solid-looking midfield of Ryan Crotty and Robbie Fruean.
The suspension of Zac Guildford means Dagg will take his place on the left wing.
He will form a back three combination with fullback Tom Marshall and fellow wing Sean Maitland.
There are also a couple of surprise selections in the front-row.
All Black Owen Franks is pushed to the bench, with his older brother Ben playing tighthead, and Quentin MacDonald starts at hooker ahead of Corey Flynn.
Two Whitelock brothers – loose forward Luke and utility back Adam – have been included on the bench, meaning they could play alongside their siblings Sam and George, both of whom are in the run-on team, for the first time in an official Super Rugby match.
The brothers took the field against the Hurricanes in a pre-season clash, but that match did not carry first-class status.
Crusaders: Tom Marshall, Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg, Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (c), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Samuel Whitelock, Tom Donnelly, Ben Franks, Quentin MacDonald, Wyatt Crockett
Reserves: Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Luke Whitelock, Willie Heinz, Patrick Osborne, Adam Whitelock
All the fixtures you need to plan your viewing pleasure!
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