Crusaders ring the changes for Kings

The Crusaders have named their side to face the Kings at AMI Stadium on Saturday in the first of three South African challenges.  

Head Coach Todd Blackadder has made a number of changes to the 23-man squad that beat the Blues two weeks ago. Prop Wyatt Crockett and hooker Ben Funnell will start for the first time this season, having come off the bench in the previous two games.

Playing their first game of the season will be lock Luke Romano, loose forward Matt Todd, scrum-half Mitchell Drummond and full-back Marty McKenzie. 

David Havili steps into inside centre this week instead of full-back, while Kieron Fonotia shifts to outside centre. Johnny McNicholl and Nemani Nadolo start on the wings.

Hooker Ged Robinson may earn his first Crusaders cap if he comes off the bench on Saturday night, and Ryan Crotty is also looking for his first run of 2016 after recovering from his thumb injury to take a spot in the reserves.

Following the Kings, the squad will head to South Africa to play the Sharks in Durban and then the Lions in Johannesburg.

Crusaders: 15 Marty McKenzie, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 David Havili, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jimmy Tupou, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (c), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Jone Macilai

Date: Friday, March 18
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: William Houston
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill, Angus Mabey
TMO: Chris Wratt