Super Rugby Aoteraoa: Veteran Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock to make 150th appearance in clash with Chiefs

Sam Whitelock will become the 11th New Zealanders to play 150 Super Rugby games when the Crusaders face the Chiefs at  FMG Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday night. 

Whitelock has retained his spot in the starting side for the special occasion, as the Crusaders aim to bounce back from their shock 34-32 defeat to the Hurricanes last weekend. 

His former Crusaders teammate Wyatt Crockett (202) has the most with Liam Messam (179) Keven Mealamu (175), Ma'a Nonu (174), Kieran Read (156), Andy Ellis (154), Ben Smith (153), Ryan Crotty (152), Corey Flynn and Corey Owen Franks (150) the other Kiwis to have played at least 150 games. 

Overall Scott Robertson has made four changes to the starting side with Sione Havili being promoted from the bench to blindside flanker, with Tom Sanders moving from the No.6 jersey to No.8. 

All Blacks prop Joe Moody was initially named in the side, but was later ruled out due to a family bereavement.

In the backline, Mitchell Drummond will start at halfback with Bryn Hall coming off the bench.

Meanwhile, former All Blacks first-five Aaron Cruden will play his 100th game for the Chiefs on Saturday as his return home winds down.

Cruden is heading to Japan at the conclusion of Super Rugby, so the next two games could be his last in a Chiefs jersey.

Cruden will wear the No.10 jersey, shifting talented rookie Kaleb Trask to the bench.

The only other changes to the elusive backline will see Shaun Stevenson return to the starting fifteen on the right wing, with Sean Wainui shifting to the left, following Solomon Alaimalo’s shoulder injury last weekend against the Blues.

Super Rugby Aoteraoa: Veteran Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock to make 150th appearance in clash with Chiefs

All Black prop Angus Ta’avao returns for his first Super Rugby Aotearoa fixture and will be joined on the bench by young lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi who returns after being sidelined with concussion..

Coach Warrren Gatland said he is calling for his side to deliver aanother gutsy performance, after several weeks of heartbreaking defeat.

"Last weekend I was exceptionally proud of the efforts from the boys," Gatland says. 

"This weekend we need to again strive for a full eighty-minute performance. The Crusaders are a class act and will be hurting from the weekend, but as a team we are ready for the challenge.

"We have plenty to celebrate this weekend - Aaron’s impending milestone, a potential debut for Simon [Parker] and we have both Angus and Naitoa returning from injury.

"We hope our fans come out to celebrate alongside us for our final 2020 home match."

1-George Bower, 2-Codie Taylor (c), 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 4-Sam Whitelock, 5-Mitchell Dunshea, 6-Sione Havili, 7-Tom Christie, 8-Tom Sanders, 9-Mitchell Drummond, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-George Bridge, 12-Jack Goodhue, 13-Fetuli Paea, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-Will Jordan 

Reserves: 16-Andrew Makalio, 17-Isi Tuungafasi, 18-Oliver Jager, 19-Quinten Strange, 20-Billy Harmon, 21-Bryn Hall, 22-Brett Cameron, 23-Leicester Fainga'anuku 

1-Reuben O’Neill, 2-Bradley Slater, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Tupou Vaa’i, 5-Mitchell Brown, 6-Lachlan Boshier, 7-Sam Cane (c), 8-Pita Gus Sowakula, 9-Brad Weber, 10-Aaron Cruden,11-Sean Wainui, 12-Alex Nankivell, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 14-Shaun Stevenson, 15-Damian McKenzie 

Reserves: 16-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17-Ollie Norris, 18-Angus Ta’avao, 19-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20-Simon Parker, 21-Lisati Milo-Harris, 22-Kaleb Trask, 23-Quinn Tupaea 

Join us for live updates of the Chiefs and Crusaders from 7:05pm Saturday




Super Rugby Aoteraoa: Veteran Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock to make 150th appearance in clash with Chiefs