Whitelock leads Crusaders in 100th match

‘Portrush is like playing at home’ says Jon Rahm

Sam Whitelock will lead the Crusaders onto the field when they face the Rebels on Saturday, as both team captain and the latest centurion.  

The All Blacks second-row will bring up his ton in front of a home crowd, with the team returning to AMI Stadium for the first time in seven weeks.

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has made four changes to the starting fifteen that played the Chiefs in Fiji last week. 

In the forwards, Alex Hodgman moves into the number one jersey, while Wyatt Crockett takes a spot on the bench. Jimmy Tupou will start at number eight this week, with Kieran Read sitting this match out.

Luke Romano will provide lock cover for Whitelock and Scott Barrett, while Pete Samu joins the bench as loose forward support.

In the backs, Ryan Crotty returns to the team at centre, and Johnny McNicholl will take the right wing.  

Kieron Fonotia will prepare to make an impact off the bench this week and Mitchell Hunt will join the reserves for the second week in a row, giving him the opportunity to earn his first Crusaders cap if he makes the field.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 David Havili, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Jimmy Tupou, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Alex Hodgman
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alalaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samo, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitch Hunt,  23 Kieran Fonotia

Date: Saturday, July 9
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser, Angus Mabey
TMO: Aaron Paterson