The Crusaders will begin their 25th Investec Super Rugby season this Saturday night, when they host the Waratahs in Nelson.

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Head Coach Scott Robertson has named his team to face the Sydney-based side at Trafalgar Park, and it includes two Investec Super Rugby debutants.

21-year old Tom Christie has been named to start at openside flanker in place of Billy Harmon, who injured his knee during the Crusaders first pre-season match in Ashburton.

Meanwhile, Cullen Grace, the youngest player of any in the New Zealand Super Rugby squads at just 20 years old, has been named in the reserves. Grace has spent most of his career in the second row but will likely see plenty of game time on the blindside flank this season.

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Round one also sees the return of All Blacks Scott Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Jack Goodhue, Codie Taylor and Sevu Reece to the Crusaders side, and Barrett will run out for the first time as Captain. Taylor and David Havili have been named vice-captains of the side for 2020.

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The Crusaders’ World Cup All Blacks are limited to approximately just one half of rugby in week one, which will result in plenty of minutes for the likes of Brett Cameron and Luke Romano on the bench.

In total, the 10-time champions have 10 All Blacks in their 23, but a number have made just a handful of appearances for the national side – or fewer.

The Crusaders announced today that there will be more than just first-round points on the line this weekend, with both sides also raising funds for Rural Aid. $1000 for every try scored in the match will go to Rural Aid in support of the relief effort from the Australian bushfires.

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Crusaders: David Havili, Will Jordan, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond,   Whetukamokamo Douglas, Tom Christie, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Dunshea, Scott Barrett (c), Oliver Jager, Andrew Makalio, George Bower. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Isi Tu’ungafasi, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Cullen Grace, Bryn Hall, Brett Cameron, Sevu Reece.

– with Crusaders Rugby

World Rugby have added pressure on national teams to improve their results in 2020 after confirming that the draw for the 2023 World Cup will take place later this year:

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