Crusaders excited to see Grace at No.8

Ed Jackson

Exciting youngster Cullen Grace's first Super Rugby start at No.8 has got his Crusaders teammates and coaching staff licking their lips in anticipation.

The New Zealand powerhouse will take on the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday in a match that was shifted to Brisbane from Tokyo amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

With World Cup All Blacks Joe Moody, regular captain Scott Barrett, Codie Taylor, Richie Mo'unga and Jack Goodhue all rested, the Crusaders will have a much-changed look for the clash.

Shifting Grace to No.8 is the most eye-catching of the changes, with the 20-year-old's impressive form not going unnoticed by his teammates.

"Definitely he's a bright young star," Braydon Ennor told AAP.

"He's going well, great skillset, physical player. It's fun to have him on the team and fun to watch him play."

Despite the changes, the Crusaders won't be asking Grace to change much about his game against the Sunwolves.

"We'll still ask him to stay within his role and what his capacity there is, which is being physical," assistant coach Scott Hansen said.

"We see him as a ball carrier and his defence has been outstanding. We'll still ask him to do those things.

"In regards to our shape and skills he'll be fine within that because of his understanding of it."

Ennor, who was rested for last weekend's narrow 24-20 win over the Queensland Reds in Christchurch, said the altered schedule hadn't had much impact on the team's preparations.

"We sort of knew before the week came that we were playing in Brisbane so everyone was mentally changing from Tokyo over the weekend," he said.

"We kept the week relatively the same and we've just prepared for a good match on Saturday."