The Crusaders will open the 2015 Super Rugby season this Friday when they host the Rebels in Christchurch, with Richie McCaw playing at six.
McCaw is one of three changes that head coach Todd Blackadder has made to the starting line-up that played a warm-up game against the Reds in Brisbane last week.
The other changes are Joe Moody starting at number one and Ben Funnell at hooker.
Wyatt Crockett and Ryan Crotty also return to the mix for the first time, looking for a start off the bench on Friday.
Blackadder said the team is champing at the bit to hit the field on Friday night and get the 2015 competition underway.
“There is something special about this season, with it being our twentieth Crusade and Rugby World Cup year. So there is a real buzz within the team at the moment, they are fired up for this season and ready to get it started.
“The Rebels have always been a tough challenger for us so we know we’re going to have a real battle on Friday night. It should be a good spectacle and a great way to kick this season off,” said Blackadder.
Crusaders: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Robbie Fruean, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Richie McCaw, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Wyatt Crockett, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Nathaniel Apa
Date: Friday, February 13
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kickoff: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Referees: Shane McDermott, Brandon Pickerill
TMO: Aaron Paterson