Israel Dagg returns to fullback for the Crusaders on Saturday and will immediately resume his rivalry with Ben Smith.

Dagg sat out last weekend's 20-10 defeat to the Rebels in Christchurch, and will add much needed class to a Crusaders backline which looked rusty and disjointed in round one.

The Highlanders also have the potential to be slightly off their game when the two teams meet in Dunedin after their first-round bye, but for All Black Smith, who has edged ahead of Dagg on the international pecking order, consistency isn't usually an issue.

Dagg's inclusion after his rest on the orders of the All Blacks coaches is one of four personnel changes to the Crusaders starting line-up. Dan Carter is predictably out with his leg injury suffered in the Rebels match and replaced at No10 by Colin Slade. Wyatt Crockett starts at loosehead prop ahead of Joe Moody, with lock Dominic Bird dropped to the bench in favour of Scott Barrett. Ryan Crotty starts at second-five alongside New Brighton clubmate Kieran Fonotia, with Tom Taylor named on the bench.


For the Highlanders, seven players are set to make their debuts, including starting props Ross Geldenhuys and Josh Hohneck, and wing Waisake Naholo.

Shane Christie (hamstring) and Richard Buckman (knee) are unavailable due to injury.

Highlanders team to play the Crusaders in Dunedin on Saturday, kick-off 7.35pm: Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Shaun Treeby, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu (c), John Hardie, Elliot Dixon, Joe Wheeler, Tom Franklin, Ross Geldenhuys, Liam Coltman, Josh Hohneck. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Kane Hames, Ma'afu Fia, Mark Reddish, Dan Pryor, Fumiaki Tanaka, Jason Emery, Marty Banks.

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Robbie Fruean, Kieron Fonotia, Ryan Crotty, Johnny McNicholl, Colin Slade, Mitchell Drummond, Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd (c), Richie McCaw, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Joe Moody, Nepo Laulala, Dominic Bird, Jordan Taufua, Billy Guyton, Tom Taylor, Nafi Tuitavake.