The Crusaders will head to Melbourne this week to try and make it three wins from three matches in the pre-season trials.  They will face the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park at 7:35pm (Australian time) on Saturday.

It will be only the second time the Crusaders have faced the newest team in the Investec Super Rugby tournament, having also played them in a pre-season game in 2011.  The Rebels were the only Australian team that the Crusaders did not play in the regular season last year.

Kieran Read makes his first appearance in the starting fifteen for this season, at number 8 and as captain.  He will be deputised by Andy Ellis, who is also making his first start at halfback. Those changes send Luke Whitelock and Willi Heinz to the bench.

Lock Tom Donnelly also comes into the starting fifteen and prop Ben Franks will make his first start alongside brother Owen.

The tightly fought number 10 jersey returns to Tyler Bleyendaal this week, who started there against the Highlanders.  Tom Taylor moves out one to play second five-eighths.

Adam Whitelockwill play in his third different jumper this season with a start at centre, after starting at second five against the Hurricanes last week and on the wing against the Highlanders.

Sean Maitland returns to the wing, with Patrick Osborne moving to the bench.

Crusaders team to play the Rebels:

1.    Ben Franks

2.    Quentin MacDonald

3.    Owen Franks

4.    Samuel Whitelock

5.    Tom Donnelly

6.    George Whitelock

7.    Matt Todd

8.    Kieran Read (capt)

9.    Andy Ellis (vice capt)

10. Tyler Bleyendaal

11. Israel Dagg

12. Tom Taylor

13. Adam Whitelock

14. Sean Maitland

15. Tom Marshall


16. Corey Flynn

17. Wyatt Crockett

18. Luke Romano

19. Ross Kennedy

20. Willie Heinz

21. James Schrader

22. Patrick Osborne

23. Mitch Scott

24. Joe Wheeler

25. Brendon O’Connor

26. Luke Whitelock