Crusaders near full-strength for Chiefs

Skipper Kieran Read is among a group players backing up from All Blacks duty in a near full-strength Crusaders side to face the Chiefs in the first Super Rugby match to be staged in Fiji.

The No.8 is coming off his first series as regular Test captain, having led New Zealand to a 3-0 sweep over Wales.

Other current All Blacks in the Crusaders’ starting XV for the clash in Suva on Friday night are fullback Israel Dagg, lock Sam Whitelock and the front row of Owen Franks, Codie Taylor and Wyatt Crockett.

Prop Joe Moody has been included on the bench for a contest that features the top two sides in the New Zealand conference.

However, inside centre Ryan Crotty and lock Luke Romano, who also played in the series against Wales, have been ruled out through injury.

The bench also includes flanker Jed Brown and fullback/five-eighth Mitchell Hunt, who are in line to make their debuts.

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Jone Macilai, Kieron Fonotia, David Havili, Nemani Nadolo, Richie Mo’unga, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (capt), Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett. Res: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Mike Alaalatoa, Jimmy Tupou, Jed Brown, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Sean Wainui.

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