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Crusaders, Chiefs, name revamped teams for opening round of Super Rugby trans-Tasman

The Crusaders and the Chiefs have named revamped sides to face the Brumbies and the Western Force tomorrow night in the opening round of Super Rugby trans-Tasman.

Codie Taylor will captain the Crusaders against the Brumbies in what will be his 100th game for the franchise. Source: Photosport

The Super Rugby Aotearoa finalists have taken the opportunity to rest and rotate several key players, a week on from their final clash in Christchurch.

The champion Crusaders will be lead by Codie Taylor, who will play his 100th game for the franchise, with Mitch Drummond and Will Jordan both rested, and regular skipper Scott Barrett and wing Sevu Reece moved to the bench.

In the forwards, Mitch Dunshea will partner Sam Whitelock as the starting locks and Brendon O'Connor joins the match day team in place of Sione Havili Talitui, who has been ruled out with concussion symptoms.

In the absence of Drummond, Bryn Hall has been named to start the match and Ereatara Enari will have an opportunity from the bench.

There is a reshuffle in the backline with George Bridge dropping to fullback and Leicester Fainga'anuku moving to the left wing, which sees Braydon Ennor and Manasa Mataele both earn their first starts of the 2021 season.

Likewise, the Chiefs have also taken the opportunity to rotate players.

Damian McKenzie has been shifted to first-five in place of Bryn Gatland, who moves to the bench. McKenzie played at ten for the Chiefs' upset round-robin victory over the Crusaders last month.

Jonah Lowe starts on the left wing with Shaun Stevenson taking the position on the right, while Chase Tiatia will start at fullback.

Young lock Josh Lord gets the start alongside Tupou Vaa'i, with Nathan Harris also returning to start at hooker.

Inexperienced quartet Joe Apikotoa, Zane Kapeli, Xavier Roe and Bailyn Sullivan have been named on the bench, where they are sure to receive plenty of advice from the ever-experienced Liam Messam, who is set to make his second appearance of the season.

The Crusaders will host the Brumbies at Orangetheory Stadium tomorrow night, while the Chiefs travel to Perth to face the Western Force.

Crusaders team to face Brumbies: 15 George Bridge, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga'anuku, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Sanders, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.

Reserves: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Brendon O'Connor, 21 Ereatara Enari, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Sevu Reece.

Chiefs team to face Western Force: 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Jonah Lowe, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Pita Gus Sowakula, 5 Tupou Vaa'i, 4 Josh Lord, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Aidan Ross.

Reserves: 16 Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Joe Apikotoa, 19 Zane Kapeli, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Bailyn Sullivan.