WITH THEIR play-off chances hanging by a thread, Coach Todd Blackadder will be happy with the return of Kieran Read (concussion), Dan Carter (hamstring) and Israel Dagg (ankle) who start against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.
After suffering a knock to the head during the All Blacks 3-0 whitewash over Ireland, Kieran Read starts at number 8, moving captain Richie McCaw to his favoured openside spot. Dan Carter slots in at 10, shifting Tom Taylor to the bench. While Sean Maitland who played at fullback last week, hands over the 15 shirt to Israel Dagg.
With a shock defeat to the Hurricanes 23-22 last week, the seven-time champions are in danger of failing to secure a play-off spot, for the first time since 2001.
The only other change to last week’s team is a rotation of the props, with Ben and Owen Franks taking the starting spots and Wyatt Crockett providing cover from the bench.
Chiefs v Crusaders
Friday 6 July at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick:off – 08:35 BST
15. Israel Dagg, 14. Adam Whitelock, 13. Robbie Fruean, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Zac Guildford, 10. Dan Carter, 9. Andy Ellis, 1. Ben Franks, 2. Corey Flynn, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. George Whitelock, 7. Richie McCaw [C], 8. Kieran Read
16. Quentin MacDonald, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Tom Donnelly, 19. Matt Todd, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Tom Taylor, 22. Sean Maitland