George Whitelock captains Canterbury
August 6, 2013
The Crusaders' George Whitelock breaks a tackle against the Reds, Crusaders v Queensland Reds, Super Rugby, Super Rugby qualifiers, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, July 20, 2013
Crusaders star George Whitelock leads Canterbury for the fifth season in succession © Getty Images

Canterbury have named a formidable squad as they seek to extend their ITM Cup-record streak of titles to six this season.

Scott Robertson, who has replaced Tabai Matson as coach, has unveiled a 37-man group that includes a core of experienced heads alongside includes five newcomers.

Crusaders flanker George Whitelock, the only player involved in all five championship-winning campaigns since 2008, is captain for a fifth consecutive season, with Crusaders scrum-halves Andy Ellis and Willi Heinz named vice captains. Centre Ryan Crotty, fly-half Colin Slade, flanker Matt Todd and hooker Corey Flynn are among the hardened Super Rugby players in the squad.

Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock and Wyatt Crockett are all also in the squad but they are unlikely to play more than a limited role due to their Rugby Championship commitments as senior All Blacks.

New Zealand Sevens representatives Belgium Tuatagaloa and Milford Keresoma have been called into the squad alongside halfback Mitchell Drummond, prop Mitchell Graham and lock Matt Symons.

"I have been really impressed with the quality that has been coming out of Sevens rugby in recent years and there are plenty of examples of players who have gone on to adapt well to fifteen-aside rugby. These players really have something to offer this squad and I look forward to seeing them in action," Robertson said.

A Canterbury selection will play 40 minutes against Wellington and 40 minutes against the All Blacks in a specially arranged match in Wellington on Friday.

The ITM Cup kicks off on August 15.

Canterbury: Dominic Bird, Tyler Bleyendaal, Jed Brown, Dan Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Ryan Crotty, Marcel Cummings-Toone, Mitchell Drummond, Andy Ellis, Joel Everson, Paea Fa'anunu, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Robbie Fruean, Ben Funnell, Mitch Graham, Willi Heinz, Luke Katene, Milford Keresoma, Nepo Laulala, Nasi Manu, Richie McCaw, Johnny McNicholl, Joe Moody, Patrick Osborne, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Colin Slade, Matt Symons, Jordan Taufua, Codie Taylor, Tom Taylor, Matt Todd, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Adam Whitelock, George Whitelock (captain), Luke Whitelock, Sam Whitelock.


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