Matt Todd at blindside flanker for Canterbury
Scott Robertson has named two players to make their Canterbury debuts in Saturday afternoon's National Provincial Championship match against Auckland and has sprung a surprise by switching Matt Todd to the unfamiliar blindside flanker position.
Loosehead prop Alex Hodgman and lock Scott Barrett have been listed in the run-on side while two other uncapped forwards, Siate Tokolahi and Tom Sanders, will be in the reserves for the match at AMI Stadium.
Todd, who was one of the leading performers in the Crusaders surge into the Super Rugby grand final, usually operates at openside flanker and both his appearances for the All Blacks have been in that position.
Canterbury coach Robertson, however, has chosen to start Jed Brown at No 7; Luke Whitelock, who earned his only test cap against Japan in Tokyo last year, has been listed at No 8.
Tyler Bleyendaal will start at first five-eighths, meaning Richie Mo'unga will run at fullback. With Ryan Crotty being given an extended holiday after playing every match for the Crusaders, Tom Taylor and Adam Whitelock have been recruited into the midfield.
Halfback Willi Heinz will captain the side this season. Andy Ellis will play in Japan and won't represent Canterbury during the NPC. He will make a delayed return the Crusaders next year.
Canterbury: Richie Mo'unga, Patrick Osborne, Adam Whitelock, Tom Taylor, Johnny McNicholl, Tyler Bleyendaal, Willi Heinz (c), Luke Whitelock, Jed Brown, Matt Todd, Scott Barrett, Joel Everson, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Alex Hodgman. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Siate Tokolahi, Matt Symons, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Drummond, Rob Thompson, Milford Keresoma.