In-form hooker Leni Apisai gets his second start, joining props Alex Hodgman and Ofa Tuungafasi, who both impressed with full 80-minute displays last week.
Resilient young number eight Akira Ioane will make his 31st straight Super Rugby start in the loose forward trio with co-captain Blake Gibson and standout rookie Tom Robinson, who replaces Dalton Papalii.
The unchanged back-line is a blend of impressive young prospects like Caleb Clarke and Harry Plummer with veteran Ma’a Nonu, the competition’s most experienced player.
MacDonald said while the Blues had played well in their closely-fought loss to the Super Rugby champions in the opening game, that the Crusaders had gone on to again set the standard in the competition.
While many are billing the match as crucial, the Blues are not letting themselves become outcome-focussed.
“We have had the same approach every game and that is to strive to produce quality performances and to improve every week,” said MacDonald.
“If you put on a performance of quality over 80 minutes, then positive results are likely to follow, and we are getting closer to achieving that.
“We know that we will need to be at our very best against the Crusaders. Just like the people of the region, they know how to dig deep in times of adversity, and so we know what to expect.”