The Crusaders are preparing to play their first match of DHL Super Rugby Pacific under the roof in Dunedin this weekend, and Head Coach Scott Robertson has named a strong side to kick off their 2022 campaign.
10 international players will line up against the Hurricanes on Saturday night, including current All Blacks Joe Moody, Scott Barrett (Captain), Samuel Whitelock, David Havili (Vice-Captain), Braydon Ennor, George Bridge, Will Jordan, George Bower and Sevu Reece. Meanwhile Argentina loose forward and former Jaguares Captain, Pablo Matera, is set to become Crusader number 252 when he makes his debut on the blindside.
Fergus Burke has been handed the number 10 jersey following a solid pre-season campaign, while former Blues and Hurricanes first five-eighth, Simon Hickey, has been named on the bench in his debut season for the Crusaders.
The rest of the reserves also offer plenty of impact, including 22-year-old Canterbury hooker, Shilo Klein, who will provide cover for Brodie McAlister in the absence of Vice-Captain Codie Taylor.
"While we would have loved to be playing at home in front of our fans and families this weekend, we're really grateful to be able to get our 2022 campaign underway and understand just how much work has gone into getting the competition off the ground in Queenstown and Dunedin," Robertson said.
"It's an exciting week for the likes of Fergus Burke and our three debutants in particular. They've all worked extremely hard and prepared diligently for their opportunity and we look forward to seeing them step up on Saturday night."
Kick off in the Crusaders match against the Hurricanes is 7:05pm, Saturday 19th February at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. The match will be televised live on Sky Sport.