Packing down in the front row will be Tim Perry, Corey Flynn and Nepo Laulala. Prop Joe Moody has been named in the reserves for his first game since he broke his leg in last year’s NPC final. Another prop, Siate Tokolahi, has been called into the squad for this game and will also take a place on the bench.
Joel Everson is set to make his Crusaders debut at lock alongside Jimmy Tupou, and another player called into the squad could make his debut if he comes off the bench – lock Scott Barrett, younger brother of All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett.
Flanker Matt Todd has been released by the All Blacks to join the team and will take a place in the reserves to provide cover for Whitelock brothers George and Luke and Jordan Taufua in the loose forwards.
Willi Heinz starts at scrumhalf with Andy Ellis ready to add his valuable international experience from off the bench.
Tyler Bleyendaal at flyhalf and Tom Taylor at fullback will be available to take any kicks at goal. Nafi Tuitavake and Johnny McNicholl will play on the wing and Kieron Fonotia has recovered from his hamstring strain to join Rey Lee-Lo in the midfield.
Hooker Ben Funnell and backs Adam Whitelock and Rob Thompson take the remaining spots on the bench.
Coach Todd Blackadder said there is a real feeling of excitement amongst the team about facing the England team at home.
“This is such a special occasion for so many reasons and the team has been absolutely buzzing in the lead up to this game.
“For our players this is a great chance to pit themselves against one of the world’s best international sides. For our fans, this will be a great spectacle and also a celebration of how far Christchurch has come.
“Local rugby fans were gutted when the earthquakes took away our opportunity to host England at the last Rugby World Cup, so it is fantastic to have the chance to host them now.
“We know the England team particularly wanted to make the effort to play in Christchurch while they were here and we are very grateful for that,” Blackadder said.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 George Whitelock (captain), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Joel Everson, 4 Jimmy Tupou, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Adam Whitelock, 23 Rob Thompson.