Mo’unga gets nod at ten for Crusaders

The Crusaders will kick off their 2016 Super Rugby campaign at AMI Stadium this Saturday night when they take on the Chiefs. 

Head Coach Todd Blackadder has named a run-on fifteen that includes three Crusader debutants – Tim Boys at loose forward, Richie Mo’unga at fly-half and Sean Wainui at centre.

An experienced front row of Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks will take the field, with more valuable experience on the bench in the form of Wyatt Crockett and Ben Funnell.  

Mike Alaalatoa may get his opportunity to make his Crusaders debut off the bench as well.

Sam Whitelock will captain the side and partner up with Scott Barrett at lock, while Jimmy Tupou provides cover.

The loose forward trio holds 199 caps between them, although it will be Tim Boys’ first in red and black. The uncapped Reed Prinsep has been given the nod as loose forward cover. 

Scrum-half Andy Ellis will provide some vital experience for the back line, and Leon Fukofuka is another player preparing to make his debut off the bench.

Crusaders debutant Ben Volavola will cover Mo’unga at fly-half, while Kieron Fonotia takes the second inside centre.

David Havili starts at full-back, Fijian flyers Nemani Nadolo and Jone Macilai start on the wings, and Johnny McNicholl will be ready to make an impact off the bench.

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacement: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Johnny McNicholl

Date: Saturday, February 27
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)