Official team lists and injury news for this week's round of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Crusaders v Chiefs
7:05pm, Saturday, March 12
OrangeTheory Stadium, Christchurch
Former All Blacks fullback David Havili will move into the midfield for the Crusaders clash with the Chiefs.
Over the opening two rounds, coach Scott Robertson has preferred Dallas McLeod at second-five, replacing injured Braydon Ennor, but has opted for Havili's experience and opportunity to start Will Jordn in the No.15 jersey.
Others changes from the line-up that started against the Hurricanes last week will see George Bower replacing Joe Moody in the front row and Sione Havili Talitui subbing in for concussed Ethan Blackadder at blindside flanker.
Lock Mitch Dunshea and loose forward Whetu Douglas will make their season debuts from the bench.
Crusaders: 1-George Bower, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 4-Scott Barrett (c), 5-Samuel Whitelock, 6-Sione Havili Talitui, 7-Tom Christie, 8-Cullen Grace, 9-Mitchell Drummond, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12-David Havili, 13-Jack Goodhue, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-Will Jordan
Reserves: 16-Brodie McAlister, 17-Joe Moody, 18-Fletcher Newell, 19-Mitchell Dunshea, 20-Whetukamokamo Douglas, 21-Bryn Hall, 22-Fergus Burke, 23-Dallas McLeod
The Chiefs have rung the changes for their Super Rugby Aotearoa showdown with the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
Searching for answers in a bid to break their 10-game win drought, coach Clayton McMillan has dropped All Blacks star Anton Lienert-Brown to the bench, as one of several adjustments to the team beaten 39-23 by the Highlanders last weekend.
Quinn Tupaea takes Lienert-Brown's place in the starting line-up, while prop Angus Ta'avao has been promoted to join the starting front row of Reuben O’Neill and Samisoni Taukei'aho.
Bradley Slater, Ross and Sione Mafileo provide front-row cover on the bench.
Naitoa Ah Kuoi also shifts to the bench, seeing All Black Tupou Vaa'i pair with Josh Lord, who will make his debut at lock, as will loose forward Kaylum Boshier.
Prop Aidan Ross and utility back Chase Tiatia return from injury, while winger Shaun Stevenson shifts from the bench to start on the right wing.
Chiefs: 1-Reuben O’Neill, 2-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 3-Angus Ta'avao, 4-Tupou Vaa’i, 5-Josh Lord, 6-Mitchell Brown, 7-Sam Cane (co-capt), 8-Luke Jacobson, 9-Brad Weber (co-capt), 10-Bryn Gatland, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Quinn Tupaea, 13-Sean Wainui, 14-Shaun Stevenson, 15-Damian McKenzie
Reserves: 16-Bradley Slater, 17-Aidan Ross, 18-Sione Mafileo,19-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20-Kaylum Boshier, 21-Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22-Anton Lienert-Brown , 23-Chase Tiatia
Blues v Highlanders
3:35pm, Sunday, March 14
Eden Park, Auckland
The Blues will welcome fans to Eden Park after the government announced Auckland was moving COVID-19 alert level 1.
Leon MacDonald has made five changes to the side that beat the Hurricanes 31-16 in the opening round.
Four changes come in the forwards, with a brand new front row. All Black props Karl Tu'inukuafe and Ofa Tuungafasi come into the starting side while Luteru Tolai replaces Kurt Eklund who drops to the bench.
Exciting 20-year-old lock Sam Darry will make his debut alongside captain Patrick Tuipulotu with the other change seeing Jonathan Ruru start at halfback with Sam Nock dropping to the bench.
Blues: 1-Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2-Luteru Tolai, 3-Ofa Tuungafasi, 4-Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 5-Sam Darry, 6-Akira Ioane, 7-Dalton Papalii, 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 9-Jonathan Ruru, 10-Otere Black, 11-Caleb Clarke, 12-Harry Plummer, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-Mark Telea, 15-Stephen Perofeta
Reserves: 16-Kurt Eklund, 17-James Lay, 18-Nepo Laulala, 19-Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20-Tom Robinson, 21-Sam Nock, 22-Tanielu Tele'a, 23-Emoni Narawa
The Highlanders have brought All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith back into their starting line-up to face the Blues, while James Lentjes makes his return after more than a year out with a broken ankle.
Smith returns as the Highlanders' No.9 and co-captain, and will lead the side with Ash Dixon on the bench.
Smith takes the place of Folau Fakatava, who scored in the 39-23 win over the Chiefs last Saturday.
Lentjes' return is also a sight for sore eyes, having been out of action since February 2020, breaking his ankle in an ugly tackle against Melbourne Rebels.
Elsewhere, Josh Ioane is preferred to Mitchell Hunt at first-five, while former All Black Liam Squire has been left out of the side altogether.
The Highlanders are looking to win back the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy, after losing both encounters with the Blues in last year’s Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Highlanders: 1-Ethan de Groot, 2-Liam Coltman, 3-Siate Tokolahi, 4-Josh Dickson, 5-Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 6-Shannon Frizell, 7-James Lentjes, 8-Hugh Renton, 9-Aaron Smith (cc), 10-Josh Ioane, 11-Jona Nareki, 12-Sio Tomkinson, 13-Michael Collins, 14-Ngantungani Punivai, 15-Connor Garden-Bachop
Reserves: 16-Ash Dixon (cc), 17-Josh Hohneck, 18-Jeff Thwaites, 19-Bryn Evans, 20-Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 21-Folau Fakatava, 22-Mitch Hunt, 23-Billy Harmon.
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