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Crusaders v Chiefs Super Rugby preview
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Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has axed Clermont-bound winger Zac Guildford for his side's Super Rugby opener against the Chiefs in Christchurch.
Former All Blacks international Guildford is a surprise omission, with New Zealand Sevens player Nafi Tuitavake handed his debut and Rob Thompson named on the bench.
Tuitavake is one of three players set to make his first appearance for the Crusaders, with prop Tim Perry - who played once for the Blues last season - and former Hurricances centre Rey Lee-Lo also included in the starting XV.
Colin Slade, who has returned to the Crusaders after three seasons with the Highlanders, misses out with a calf injury so Tyler Bleyendaal will wear the No 10 jersey.
Defending champions, the Chiefs will be buoyed by two returnees from Japan for the New Zealand Conference encounter.
Mils Muliaina, the former All Blacks full-back, has spent the last two seasons at the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes while Kane Thompson moved to the Canon Eagles after helping the Chiefs to the 2012 Super Rugby title.
However they have been named in a new-look starting XV to face the Crusaders.
Flanker Tevita Kolomatangi, ex-Highlanders prop Jamie Mackintosh and former Crusaders centre Robbie Fruean all make their debuts for the Waikato-based franchise, while Nathan Harris, James Lowe, Matt Symons, Liam Squire and Anton Lienert-Brown have been included on the bench
Crusaders: 15 Dagg, 14 McNicholl, 13 Lee-Lo, 12 Crotty, 11 Tuitavake, 10 Bleyendaal, 9 Ellis, 1 Perry, 2 Flynn, 3 O Franks, 4 S Whitelock, 5 Bird, 6 G Whitelock, 7 McCaw (c), 8 L Whitelock.
Replacements: 16 Funnell, 17 Crockett, 18 Laulala, 19 Romano, 20 Todd, 21 Heinz, 22 Taylor, 23 Thompson
Chiefs: 15 Muliaina, 14 Nanai-Williams, 13 Fruean, 12 Ngatai, 11 Tikoirotuma, 10 Cruden, (c), 9 Pulu, 1 Mackintosh, 2 Marshall, 3 Tameifuna, 4 Fitzgerald, 5 Retallick, 6 Messam, 7 Koloamatangi, 8 Thompson.
Replacements: 16 Harris, 17 Manu, 18 Afeaki, 19 Symons/Squire, 20 Crosswell, 21 Kerr-Barlow, 22 Horrell/Leinert-Brown, 23 Lowe.
Watch the Crusaders take on the Chiefs live on Sky Sports 2 HD on Friday from 6.30am
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