Chiefs v Crusaders
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, Friday 5.35pm (AEST)
Last meeting: Played 7 Chiefs 2 Crusaders 5
Head-to-head: Played 18 Chiefs 5 Crusaders 13
In Hamilton: Played 7 Chiefs 2 Crusaders 5
Referee: Steve Walsh (AUS)
TV: Live, FoxSports 2
TAB Sportsbet: Chiefs $1.95 Crusaders $1.80
Greg Growden writes: The Crusaders must be happy they are allowed to pick their best team, but it may not be enough to beat the stampeding Chiefs, the real entertainers of the tournament.
AAP writes: The match of the round. This is a potential grand final preview. The Crusaders are smarting after their surprise one-point loss to the Hurricanes and need to topple the ladder leaders to ensure their play-off safety. They have All Black big guns Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Israel Dagg back for the heavyweight clash and should regain their famed ruthlessness in Hamilton. The Chiefs have strengthened their pack with Sona Taumalolo and Sam Cane starting while Alex Bradley replaces injured No.8 Kane Thompson. The Carter-Cruden playmaking battle will be intriguing.
CHIEFS: Robbie Robinson, Tim Nanai-Williams, Andrew Horrell, Sonny Bill Williams, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Alex Bradley, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (c), Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Sona Taumalolo. Reserves: Hika Elliot, Toby Smith, Romana Graham, Tanerau Latimer, Brendon Leonard, Jackson Willison, Lelia Masaga.
CRUSADERS: Israel Dagg, Adam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Ben Franks, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Wyatt Crockett, Tom Donnelly, Matt Todd, Willi Heinz, Tom Taylor, Sean Maitland.