Dagg back as Crusaders ring changes

All Black Israel Dagg will make his Super Rugby return for the Crusaders this weekend after a long injury layoff.

He's been named on the wing for Saturday's clash with the Rebels in Melbourne.

The outside back played a half game of club rugby a fortnight ago and declared himself fit to play for the Crusaders, but he was left out of last weekend's win over the Chiefs in Suva.

Dagg hasn't played Super Rugby since March after injuring his knee against the Reds and now has two games to prove his match fitness before the All Blacks first test of the year against Samoa.

Dagg's inclusion is one of ten changes the Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has made to the starting fifteen that beat the Chiefs last weekend, using the trip to Melbourne to rest a number of key men, including Matt Todd, Ryan Crotty, Owen Franks and Codie Taylor.

The Test quartet have all been left out of the matchday squad.

Last week's bench front row of Wyatt Crockett, Ben Funnell and Mike Alaalatoa becomes the starting front row for Saturday night.

Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody and Oli Jager will provide cover.

Lock Quinten Strange will make his first start of the season, pairing up with Sam Whitelock, while Luke Romano takes a spot on the bench.

The loose forward trio will be Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Pete Samu and Jordan Taufua, with Jed Brown having recovered from injury to take a place in the reserves.

Manasa Mataele is on the opposite wing to Dagg with Tim Bateman stepping into the second five spot. Seta Tamanivalu will make his start at centre.

Crusaders team to play the Rebels:

1. Wyatt Crockett

2. Ben Funnell

3. Michael Alaalatoa

4. Quinten Strange

5. Sam Whitelock (C)

6. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis

7. Pete Samu

8. Jordan Taufua

9. Bryn Hall

10. Richie Mo'unga

11. Manasa Mataele

12. Tim Bateman

13. Seta Tamanivalu

14. Israel Dagg

15. David Havili


16. Andrew Makalio

17. Joe Moody

18. Oli Jager

19. Luke Romano

20. Jed Brown

21. Mitchell Drummond

22. Mitchell Hunt

23. George Bridge