Crusaders name Sam Whitelock in team for SRP final

Sam Whitelock will start for the Crusaders on Saturday when they take on the Chiefs in the Super Rugby Pacific final at FMG Stadium in Hamilton.

Whitelock was seemingly in doubt for this weekend’s decider, with New Zealand coach Ian Foster saying the All Blacks didn’t “expect him to play based on the medical data we’ve got.”

But the departing lock has been named for his 178th and final game in Crusaders colours. Whitelock will pack down in the second row alongside captain Scott Barrett.

The Crusaders have named an unchanged front row of Tamaiti Williams, Codie Taylor and Oliver Jager, while Barrett and Whitelock complete the rest of the tight five.

As for the rest of the forward pack, Sione Havili Talitui, Tom Christie and Christian Lio-Willie will form a formidable loose forward trio.

All Black Mitchell Drummond will partner long-time teammate Richie Mo’unga in the halves. Mo’unga has played a key role in the Crusaders dynasty, and will want to go out a winner in his last game for the franchise before heading to Japan.

Leicester Fainga’anuku is also set to head overseas after this year’s Rugby World Cup, and joins All Blacks bolter Dallas McLeod and Will Jordan in the outside backs.