One of the match-ups to look out for this weekend in the opening round of the 2017 Super Rugby will definitely be the Crusaders hosting the Brumbies in New Zealand.
The Brumbies will have to be without Scott Sio when they start their Super Rugby season against the Crusaders this weekend.
Sio was unable to recover in time to make the Brumbies side for their match against the Crusaders.
Coach Stephen Larkham has named a total of seven players that could make their debuts for the Brumbies.
The loss of Sio will no doubt be frustrating for coach Stephen Larkham but Brumbies fans will be excited to see how the new players will slot in.
Sam Carter will captain the side and will form a solid looking pack that also contains Nic Mayhew, Josh Mann-Rea and Allan Alaalatoa.
A lot of eyes will be on the halves pairing with Joe Powell set to line up alongside New Zealand born Wharenui Hawera.
The Brumbies are certainly not short on pace with the inclusion of Henry Speight, James Dargaville and Aidan Toua named into the back three in what will prove to be a tough task against the Crusaders.
For the Crusaders, Dagg would be out to mark his Super Rugby tonne against the Brumbies
Head Coach Scott Robertson has named six debutants in his side, and Israel Dagg will become the latest Super Rugby centurion when he takes the field as fullback on Saturday night.
“Izzy is obviously a talented individual, but he also impresses with his commitment and positive influence within the team environment,” Robertson said.
“To reach 100 Super Rugby games tonight is testament to both his undeniable skillset and determination to play at an elite level. We know our fans will be excited for him to run out on to AMI Stadium for his 100th match and as a team we want to make it a memorable one.”
Dagg will be joined in the backs by four BNZ Crusaders debutants – Bryn Hall at halfback; George Bridge and Seta Tamanivalu on the wings and Jack Goodhue at centre.
Halfback Ere Enari is also set to make his debut if he comes off the bench.
Five eighths Richie Mo’unga and Ryan Crotty complete the starting back line, while Mitchell Hunt and David Havili provide cover from the bench.
The BNZ Crusaders forward pack is brimming with experience.
Joe Moody and Owen Franks are the starting props with Wyatt Crockett and Mike Alaalatoa in reserve, and Ben Funnell and Codie Taylor will cover hooker.
Scott Barrett and new BNZ Crusaders Captain Sam Whitelock will start at lock, with Luke Romano providing cover. Loose forwards Jordan Taufua and Matt Todd will be joined by debutant Whetu Douglas at No.8, and Pete Samu will be ready to make an impact off the bench.
In acknowledgement of the Fire and Civil Defence crews who have worked tirelessly to control the Port Hills fires, the BNZ Crusaders have linked with their sponsor Infor to provide 400 tickets to the match free of charge.
Prediction: It is a tough one in round 1 of the competition but I will give it to the Crusaders just because they play at home by 7 points
BNZ Crusaders: 1. Joe Moody, 2. Ben Funnell, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Scott Barrett, 5. Sam Whitelock, (C), 6. Jordan Taufua, 7. Matt Todd (VC), 8. Whetu Douglas *, 9. Bryn Hall *, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 11. George Bridge *, 12. Ryan Crotty (VC), 13. Jack Goodhue *, 14. Seta Tamanivalu *, 15. Israel Dagg
Replacements: 16. Codie Taylor, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Michael Alaalatoa, 19. Luke Romano, 20. Pete Samu, 21. Ereatari Enari *, 22. Mitchell Hunt, 23. David Havili (* Crusaders debut)
Brumbies: 1 Nic Mayhew, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 4 Rory Arnold, 5 Sam Carter (C), 6 Scott Fardy, 7 Chris Alcock, 8 Jordan Smiler, 9 Joe Powell, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 11 James Dargaville, 12 Kyle Godwin, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 14 Henry Speight, 15 Aidan Toua
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 De Wat Roos, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Isaac Thompson