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Mo'unga less Crusaders look to spoil Barrett's party

Zion Dayal
crusaders flag
  Ella Stokes

Youngster Mitchell Hunt will step into the first five jumper for the first time as he lines up against Beauden Barrett

The Crusaders will look to continue their unbeaten start to the season as they take on the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium. 

Already recording two gritty victories over the Chiefs and Stormers, the Hurricanes will be their biggest test yet.

The Wellington based side have just returned from their Argentinan and South African tour, recording a loss over the Bulls and a win over the Jaguares.

Coach Scott Robertson has made three key changes to his lineup, All Black Richie Mo'unga has been ruled out with a jaw injury which shuffles Mitchell Hunt into first five. Mike Delaney comes onto the bench as his cover.

"He's [Mitchell] really calm, he's really clear, he's got a good manner and deals with pressure well. He has done his homework this week and he is loving the opportunity," coach Scott Robertson said.

A timely return for vice-captain Matt Todd has boosted the squad as he comes back after two weeks out with a thumb injury.

"Yeah Toddy is ready to go, he is always going to put the team first, so if he is ready he will play, if he's not he won't, it just shows how tough he is as a man," captain Sam Whitelock said.

The Crusaders haven't won at the cake tin since 2012 and they narrowly lost last year after leading most of the game 22-12.

"We are expecting everything from them, the Hurricanes can play, they have world class players, a great backline, they get some good ball from their forwards, they are great athletes, we are expecting everything from them as we always do," Robertson hailed. 

The inexperienced Mitchell Hunt plays only his fourteenth game lining up against the world's best player Beauden Barrett. 

Saturday nights game will also mark Barrett's 100th super rugby game.

Hunt was elevated to first five after Richie Mo'unga suffered a jaw injury against the Stormers last week.

"His [Beauden Barrett] speed is number one, he is a fast player, you can't leave players like that with holes or gaps, he will be one we lock down on," Mitchell Hunt said. 

The game kicks off at 7:35 pm in Wellington.

Crusaders Lineup:

David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Mitchell Hunt, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Sam Whitelock (C), Scott Barrett, Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett. RESERVES: Ben Funnell, Chris King, Oliver Jager, Luke Romano, Billy Harmon, Mitchell Drummond, Mike Delany, Manasa Mataele