Kieran Read injected into starting line-up as Crusaders prepare for Suva showdown with Chiefs

The Crusaders have tweaked their starting line-up for their upcoming Suva showdown with the Chiefs on Saturday night with the biggest inclusion being All Blacks captain Kieran Read.

Crusaders lock Scott Barrett celebrates his try with teammate Kieran Read. Source: Photosport

Read has been named to start at number eight after shaking off the shoulder injury he sustained during training for the Crusaders' clash with the Stormers in Cape Town two weeks ago.

Fellow All Blacks loosie Matt Todd has been given another week off despite completing his required rest quota for the All Blacks.

Coach Scott Robertson said Todd had earned the break.

"Massive load. Topped the tackle count the last however many weeks he's played, so it's a chance for us to give Billy Harmon another crack," Robertson said.

"He deserves it, he's been great at club rugby and every time he's had an opportunity this year."

Elsewhere, George Bridge has moved to the bench with utility Braydon Ennor replacing him on the left wing.

Robertson said the change was a mix of wanting to give Ennor a bigger role and letting Bridge show his abilities off the bench.

"These guys, we'd love them to be All Blacks at the end of the year and this is their opportunity to cover many positions and to come on and do their job," Robertson said.

"It's been tough on Braydon, because he's one of the form players in Super Rugby at the start of the year, and then obviously Sevu Reece comes along and lights things up, and then your George Bridge comes back from injury.

"This week, Bridgy has a chance to finish himself, and also it's an art, coming off the bench and making an impact." 

Robertson added starting Fiji-born Reece was a no-brainer.

"Sevu's an absolute massive hit here... there's a lot of photographs, and cheers and signs for Sevu as we came into Suva and came out of the airport. 

"There's a lot of hype around him, so we've got to make sure we keep eyes on him and he gets the balance right the next few days so he can perform on the field and really produces the form he has been."

The Chiefs and Crusaders square off on Saturday at 7:30pm NZT.

Crusaders: David Havili, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Braydon Ennor, Richie Mo'unga, Mitchell Drummond, Kieran Read, Billy Harmon, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Sam Whitelock (captain), Scott Barrett, Michael Alaalatoa, Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody. 

Reserves: Ben Funnell, Isi Tu'ungafasi, George Bower, Mitchell Dunshea, Jordan Taufua, Bryn Hall, Mitchell Hunt, George Bridge.