The Crusaders will open the 2015 Investec Super Rugby season this Friday night when they host the Rebels in Christchurch. 

Richie McCaw will start for the Crusaders for the first time in 2015, in one of three changes that Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder has made to the starting line-up that played a warm-up game against the Reds in Brisbane last week. 

The other changes are Joe Moody starting at number one and Ben Funnell at hooker.

Wyatt Crockett and Ryan Crotty also return to the mix for the first time, looking for a start off the bench on Friday night.

Blackadder said the team is chomping at the bit to hit the field on Friday night and get the 2015 competition underway.

“There is something special about this season, with it being our twentieth Crusade and Rugby World Cup year. So there is a real buzz within the team at the moment, they are fired up for this season and ready to get it started. 

“The Rebels have always been a tough challenger for us so we know we’re going to have a real battle on Friday night.  It should be a good spectacle and a great way to kick this season off,” Blackadder said.

Kick-off is at 7:35pm at AMI Stadium (Addington) and tickets are available through Ticket Direct - or phone 0800 224 224 - or at one of the ticketing outlets at Eastgate, The Palms, Champions of the World South City, or The Warehouse (Barrington, Hornby, Northwood, Riccarton, South City, Timaru, Rangiora and Greymouth branches only).

Crusaders team to play the Rebels:

1 Joe Moody
2 Ben Funnell
3 Owen Franks
4 Luke Romano
5 Dominic Bird
6 Richie McCaw
7 Matt Todd (c)
8 Luke Whitelock
9 Mitchell Drummond
10 Daniel Carter
11 Johnny McNicholl
12 Tom Taylor
13 Kieron Fonotia
14 Robbie Fruean
15 Colin Slade


16 Codie Taylor
17 Alex Hodgman
18 Wyatt Crockett
19 Scott Barrett
20 Jordan Taufua
21 Billy Guyton
22 Ryan Crotty
23 Nathaniel Apa