New Canterbury coach Tabai Matson has named former All Blacks George Whitelock and Andy Ellis on his bench for their opening ITM Cup match against Tasman in Nelson on Friday night.

Willi Heinz will start at halfback in place of Ellis and will captain the side that features a host of Super Rugby players, including Robbie Fruean, Sean Maitland and Nasi Manu.

Matson has most likely named Ellis and Whitelock on the bench with an eye to next Wednesday's crunch clash with Auckland.

The past three meetings between Canterbury and Tasman have been close with only three points on average separating the two sides. Canterbury won the corresponding fixture last season 36-32.


Young hooker Codie Taylor will make his debut for the province if he gets on the field from the bench.

Canterbury: Sean Maitland, Adam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Tom Taylor, Johnny McNicholl, Tyler Bleyendaal, Willi Heinz (captain), Nasi Manu, Matt Todd, Luke Whitelock, Dom Bird, Luke Katene, Nepo Laulala, Ben Funnell, Joe Moody. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Paea Fa'anunu, Joel Everson, George Whitelock, Andy Ellis, Ryan Crotty, Telusa Veainu.