Kieran Read will make his Crusaders comeback against the Highlanders in Wyatt Crockett’s 200th Super Rugby match on Friday.
Read made his return from back surgery for a Counties Manukau side including amateurs and club players in a pre-season clash last week and the New Zealand captain has been named in the champions’ starting line-up to take on the Highlanders.
The number eight has been sidelined since going under the knife in December to free nerve pressure from a disc bulge.
Lock Sam Whitelock also comes into the side after skippering the All Blacks to a 3-0 Test series whitewash of France.
Scott Robertson has recalled eight players who were on duty for the world champions against Les Bleus, including the likes of Joe Moody, Scott Barrett and Owen Franks.
Prop Crockett will start on the bench and is sure to receive a rousing ovation at AMI Stadium, which will be renamed Wyatt Crockett Stadium to mark the occasion.
Liam Squire could return from a shoulder injury sustained in the second match against France, but Elliot Dixon will feature in his place should the All Blacks flanker fail a late fitness test.
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