Youngster Dom Gardiner joins the fray in the starting XV alongside captain Scott Barrett who received an exemption from New Zealand Rugby’s rest protocols to play a sixth straight game for the franchise.
The team has been affected by an unseasonably high injury count, testing the depth of the team while also giving many young players to play Super Rugby.
“Guys that have stepped into spots, you back them you trust them and Dom is a prime example,” said Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson.
Tamaiti Williams once again takes a spot in the front row alongside Joe Moody and Codie Taylor who is setting records for tries scored by a forward.
Richie Mo’unga takes up kicking duties once again, ready to call some shots, while Leicester Fainga’anuku and Pepesana Patafilo will stick to the wings.
Halfback Noah Hotham takes his first starting XV spot. Fresh to the team in the 2023 season, the 19-year-old had impressed so far.
“It’s a great chance to grow the young fella, he’s been superb at training and every time he’s had an opportunity on the field, and we believe this game is the one for him,” Robertson said.
The Crusaders take on the Reds on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Kick off is 9.35pm New Zealand Time.