The BNZ Crusaders will kick off their 2018 Investec Super Rugby season at home this week, when they host the Chiefs in Christchurch on Saturday night.

Head Coach Scott Robertson has named a strong starting fifteen for the New Zealand derby match, including nine All Blacks with 281 test caps between them, led by captain Sam Whitelock and vice-captains Matt Todd and Ryan Crotty.

There are just two changes from the side that played their final pre-season match against the Highlanders in Waimumu last Thursday. Luke Romano joins the starting line up this week, and will lead the team to field for what will be his 100th match for the BNZ Crusaders. Scott Barrett will provide locking cover on the bench. In the backs, George Bridge will start on the left wing, having spent some time at fullback during the pre-season. 

Billy Harmon could be set to earn his first Super Rugby cap on Saturday night, if called upon in the reserves. The 23 year-old loose forward, who has 20 provincial caps for Canterbury to his name, will take a spot on the bench. Another familiar face returns to the match day 23 this week in former Crusaders and Highlanders prop, Chris King, who will wear the No. 17 jersey.

Kick off is 7:35pm, Saturday 24 February, at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.

Following the BNZ Crusaders season opener against the Chiefs on Saturday, the Crusaders Knights development side will play their first match of the season on Sunday afternoon in Christchurch.

Head Coach Mark Brown has named a starting team which features eight BNZ Crusaders squad members, including experienced first five-eighth Mike Delany and Maori All Blacks representative Tim Bateman. The side will be captained by Jack Stratton.

Kick off in the Crusaders Knights versus Hurricanes development match is 1pm, Sunday 25 February at Linfield Park in Christchurch, and entry to the match is free. 

Tickets for Saturday night's BNZ Crusaders versus Chiefs match, and all of the BNZ Crusaders 2018 Investec Super Rugby games are now on sale via www.ticketdirect.co.nz

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Chiefs:

1.        Wyatt Crockett
RESERVES
2.        Codie Taylor 16.    Ben Funnell
3.        Michael Alaalatoa 17.    Chris King
4.        Luke Romano 18.    Oliver Jager
5.        Sam Whitelock (C) 19.    Scott Barrett
6.        Peter Samu 20.    Billy Harmon
7.        Matt Todd (VC) 21.    Mitchell Drummond
8.        Jordan Taufua 22.    Mitchell Hunt
9.        Bryn Hall 23.    Manasa Mataele
10.      Richie Mo’unga  
11.      George Bridge  
12.      Ryan Crotty (VC)  
13.      Jack Goodhue  
14.      Seta Tamanivalu  
15.      David Havili  



Crusaders Knights team to play Hurricanes development:

1.        Ezekiel Lindenmuth
RESERVES
2.        Andrew Makalio 16.    Sam Moli
3.        Reuben O'Neill 17.    Harry Allan
4.        Quinten Strange 18.    Samuel Matenga
5.        Will Tucker 19.    Hamish Dalzell
6.        Ethan Blackadder 20.    Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta
7.        Tom Christie 21.    Jack Grooby
8.        Heiden Bedwell-Curtis 22.    Brett Cameron
9.        Jack Stratton (C) 23.    Ngane Punivai
10.      Mike Delany 24.    Leicester Faingaanuku
11.      Braydon Ennor   
12.      Rameka Poihipi  
13.      Tim Bateman  
14.      Jone Macilai  
15.      Jamie Spowart