Dagg at 11 for Crusaders
All Blacks full-back Israel Dagg has been named on the wing for the Crusaders opening Super Rugby clash with the Blues on Friday.
The absence of specialist wingers Zac Guildford (undergoing a rehabilitation programme for alcohol issues) and Johnny McNicholl (back injury) has led to Dagg going to the left wing, with the versatile Tom Taylor at full-back.
The rest of the starting XV has a settled look about it, while Joe Moody and Dominic Bird are poised to make their Super Rugby debuts off the bench.
Kieran Read is the captain in the absence of Richie McCaw, while Robbie Fruean will play his 50th game for the side.
The Crusaders had a bye last weekend and the seven-time champions will start their campaign for the third successive year against the Blues at Eden Park, with the score at 1-1.
Six of the last seven matches between the two teams since 2008 have gone to the Crusaders, who embarrassed the Blues with a record 59-12 win in Christchurch last year.
However, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder was impressed with the Blues' opening-round win against the more favoured Hurricanes last weekend.
"They have a lot of firepower and you can see their passion," he said.
"Their support play was outstanding, but we know what we have to do.
"We're confident of putting our best foot forward and I know the effort will be huge from both sides."
<b>Crusaders:</b> 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Israel Dagg, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett. <br><b>Replacements:</b> 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Tom Marshall.
<b>Date:</b> Friday, March 1<br><b>Venue:</b> Eden Park<br><b>Kick-off:</b> 19.30 (06:30 GMT)<br><b>Referee:</b> Chris Pollock (New Zealand)<br><b>Assistant referees:</b> Jonathon White (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)<br><b>Television match official:</b> Ben Skeen (New Zealand)