He replaces Stephen Brett at fly-half, while veteran utility back Caleb Ralph and young scrum-half Andrew Ellis also return.
Michael Paterson is promoted from the bench to the second row to replace the injured Chris Jack.
Crusaders coach Robbie Deans said: "While we've had to make a few changes, we've still been able to enjoy a fair bit of continuity, with all but Dan Carter having been involved in the match day 22 last week.
"And he was involved in most of the preparation for that match anyway, until we had to pull him out through injury, so we are benefiting from a bit of consistency in terms of having the core of the group involved.
"What the changes simply illustrate is the competition we have for places each week, and that's not a bad situation to be in."
ormer New Zealand coach John Mitchell leads the Force on their first trip to Christchurch, having drawn 23-23 with the champions in Perth last year.
Squad: Leon MacDonald, Rico Gear, Casey Laulala, Aaron Mauger, Caleb Ralph, Daniel Carter, Andrew Ellis; Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn, Campbell Johnstone, Ross Filipo, Michael Paterson, Reuben Thorne, Richard McCaw (captain), Mose Tuiali'i.
Reserves: Ti'i Paulo, Ben Franks, Kieran Read, Johnny Leo'o, Kevin Senio, Stephen Brett, Scott Hamilton.