All Black Kieran Read will make his first appearance for the Crusaders this year when they take on the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday.

No 8 Read has sat out the Crusaders' previous two pre-season matches against the Highlanders and Hurricanes but returns to the side for their final pre-season hitout and he will also take over the captaincy. All Blacks teammate Andy Ellis will make his first start at halfback, with the two changes sending Luke Whitelock and Willi Heinz to the bench.

Lock Tom Donnelly also comes into the starting 15 and prop Ben Franks will make his first start alongside brother Owen.

The No 10 jersey returns to Tyler Bleyendaal this week, who started there against the Highlanders. Tom Taylor moves out one to play second five-eighths.


Adam Whitelock will play in his third different jersey this season with a start at centre, after starting at second-five against the Hurricanes last week and on the wing against the Highlanders.

Centre Robbie Fruean is being rested. Sean Maitland returns to the wing, with Patrick Osborne moving to the bench.

Crusaders team: Tom Marshall, Sean Maitland, Adam Whitelock, Tom Taylor, Israel Dagg, Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (c), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Tom Donnelly, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Quentin MacDonald, Ben Franks. Reserves: Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett, Luke Romano, Ross Kennedy, Willie Heinz, James Schrader, Patrick Osborne, Mitch Scott, Joe Wheeler, Brendon O'Connor, Luke Whitelock.