Cru­saders’ ad­van­tage against Hur­ri­canes

Fiji Sun - - SPORTS -

Cru­saders coach Scott Robert­son be­lieves his side will have a slight ad­van­tage head­ing into their first game of Su­per Rugby Aotearoa to­day against the Hur­ri­canes.

The three-time de­fend­ing Su­per Rugby cham­pi­ons had a bye on the first weekend of the re­jigged com­pe­ti­tion, which al­lowed the team to ob­serve the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the new rules – par­tic­u­larly at the break­down – and put them into prac­tice in train­ing.

Robert­son said they were for­tu­nate to ob­serve how the other teams re­acted to the new rules and how it played out on the field.

“When we saw the draw we just made the best of it. There’s go­ing to be a lit­tle bit of an ad­just­ment – you’ve got to adapt and learn as you go.

“We’re for­tu­nate to have a good look at it but it’s rugby – some of those penal­ties aren’t avoid­able. Peo­ple just get caught in the wrong po­si­tion. Our guys will do the best we can.”

There were close to 30 penal­ties in each of the two games last weekend, lead­ing to more set pieces, which also plays to the Cru­saders’ strengths.

“We haven’t seen that in­ten­sity for a while and were rea­son­ably sur­prised,” Robert­son said. “And ob­vi­ously the speed of the game. But we’re just ex­cited by how many li­ne­outs there were. Be­cause ob­vi­ously there were penal­ties and a few kicks to the cor­ner.

“It’s a lit­tle bit of an ad­just­ment to these in­ter­pre­ta­tions around the break­down so we get to have a look at it and we’ve been train­ing for the last few weeks and we’ll give it our best.”

How­ever, Robert­son wasn’t get­ting too car­ried away and was aware that hav­ing an ex­tra week off also pro­vides sev­eral chal­lenges.

“There’s an ad­van­tage in two ways. You learn by play­ing just as much as you can learn by watch­ing. So we’ve got to make sure that we see the clear pic­tures that we were given. We know that they’re go­ing to be ex­tremely tough and hard around the break­down.”

The Cru­saders will be with­out cap­tain Scott Bar­rett, who suf­fered a foot in­jury dur­ing a prac­tice match in train­ing.

In­jury Con­cern

Robert­son wasn’t sure about the ex­tent of the in­jury but con­firmed that the All Blacks lock hurt him­self in a scrum and will be see­ing a spe­cial­ist.

But the 45-year-old coach was thank­ful for the depth at his dis­posal, with the re­turn of Sam White­lock into the start­ing lineup af­ter his short­ened Ja­panese sab­bat­i­cal, as well as David Hav­illi and Ethan Black­ad­der to bol­ster the bench af­ter re­cov­er­ing from longterm in­juries.

Robert­son was look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to busi­ness against a Hur­ri­canes side look­ing to bounce back af­ter an open­ing-round loss to the Blues.

“The Hur­ri­canes are al­ways ex­tremely bru­tal matches,” he said. “We know the fe­roc­ity and the love we have be­tween the two teams. They’re des­per­ate straight away, aren’t they, af­ter a loss.”-Rugby

Pass

Cru­saders: 15 Will Jor­dan, 14

Sevu Reece, 13 Bray­don En­nor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Ge­orge Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Dou­glas, 7 Billy Har­mon, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Mitchell Dun­shea, 4 Sam White­lock, 3 Michael Alaala­toa, 2 Codie Tay­lor (c), 1 Joe Moody

Re­place­ments: 16 Brodie McAlis­ter, 17 Ge­orge Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Ro­mano, 20 Ethan Black­ad­der, 21 Mitchell Drum­mond, 22 David Hav­ili, 23 Le­ices­ter Fain­gaanuku.

Hur­ri­canes: 15 Chase Ti­a­tia, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Jack­son Gar­den-Ba­chop, 9 TJ Per­e­nara (cc), 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Du’Plessis Kir­ifi, 6 Reed Prin­sep, 5 Vaea Fi­fita, 4 James Black­well, 3 Tyrel Lo­max, 2 Dane Coles (cc), 1 Fraser Arm­strong

Re­place­ments: 16 Asafo Au­mua, 17 Ben May, 18 Alex Fi­dow, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Billy Proc­tor, 23 Kobus Van Wyk

Date: To­day

Venue: Sky Sta­dium, Wellington Kick-off: 3:35

Ref­eree: Bren­don Pick­er­ill

As­sis­tant ref­er­ees: James Dole­man, Mike Fraser TMO: Paul Wil­liams

Cru­saders coach Scott Robert­son

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