Ryan Crotty leads Crusaders against Highlanders

IRELAND DENIED: An injury time try to Ryan Crotty stole a win for the All Blacks in Dublin.
IRELAND DENIED: An injury time try to Ryan Crotty stole a win for the All Blacks in Dublin.

Ryan Crotty will lead the Crusaders in Friday night's pre-season match against the Highlanders in Motueka.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has resisted the urge to rush back regular captain Kieran Read and All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw after the duo only returned to training with the rest of their international teammates last week.

All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg is the only established All Black to be named in the run-on side but it is expected Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock and Tom Taylor - who all joined Dagg on last year's northern tour - will get a run.

Crotty, who scored the crucial late try against Ireland in Dublin, will start at second five-eighth and has been paired with former Hurricane Reynold Lee-Lo in the midfield.

"This is a great chance for some of our newer players and wider training group to get a run against another Super Rugby team,'' Blackadder said.

''There are also some of our most experienced players in the squad though so we will certainly be looking to be competitive on Friday and give our Tasman supporters something to cheer for.''

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Rob Thompson, Reynold Lee-Lo, Ryan Crotty (captain), Nafi Tuitavake, Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis, Jordan Taufua, Jed Brown, George Whitelock, Dominic Bird, Luke Romano, Nepo Laulala, Ben Funnell, Tim Perry.

Reserves: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Joel Everson, Matt Todd, Willi Heinz, Colin Slade, Kieron Fonotia, Sam Whitelock, Tom Taylor, Adam Whitelock, Zac Guildford, Mitchell Drummond, Corey Flynn, Daniel Lienert-Brown.

Fairfax Media