DAN CARTER will start his first match of the Super Rugby season when the Crusaders take on the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday morning (NZT).
His inclusion in the run-on side is one of four changes coach Todd Blackadder has made to his team for the match at Coca-Cola Stadium.
Carter, who returned from a groin injury via the bench last weekend against the Cheetahs, replaces Tom Taylor at pivot, with the latter moving to second five in place of Ryan Crotty.
It was speculated earlier in the week that Blackadder might have also played Carter off the bench against the Lions to help ease him back from injury.
But with a pivotal and more difficult clash against the Bulls in Pretoria next weekend on the horizon, he has opted to give his All Black charge a much-needed start and chance to run the cutter.
Whether his groin is up to handling the goalkicking duties remains to be seen. Taylor’s selection outside Carter suggests it is him who will line up the shots at goal.
The other changes are in the pack, with Wyatt Crockett replacing Ben Franks at loosehead prop and George Whitelock coming in for younger brother Luke at blindside flanker.
Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean, Tom Taylor, Zac Guildford, Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn , Wyatt Crockett
Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Ben Franks, Tom Donnelly, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Ryan Crotty, Tom Marshall
This weekend throws up another set of games which could go either way.
Which player was unlucky not to make the Wallabies’ preliminary squad for the British and Irish Lions series?