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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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|Saturday 2nd August|
|Waratahs 33 - 32 Crusaders|
|Saturday 26th July|
|Waratahs 26 - 8 Brumbies|
|Crusaders 38 - 6 Sharks|
|Saturday 19th July|
|Sharks 31 - 27 Highlanders|
|Brumbies 32 - 30 Chiefs|
|Saturday 12th July|
|Stormers 10 - 34 Sharks|
|Lions 60 - 25 Cheetahs|
|Reds 3 - 34 Waratahs|
|Crusaders 34 - 8 Highlanders|
|Friday 11th July|
|Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne Rebels|
|Brumbies 47 - 25 Western Force|
|Blues 8 - 11 Chiefs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com