Crusaders stoked to have fans back on Sunday - Havili

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Havili said there was no doubt having their crowd behind them was helpful and he was looking forward to that support continuing with the return to Covid pandemic Level One for Christchurch.


Havili, who will be making his first start of the season, said he felt he had recovered from a head knock suffered in a pre-season game, also against the Hurricanes.


Preparation for Sunday's game was focused on what they could do with their game, their cleanout, staying onside and avoiding penalties deep in their territory that had affected their game last week.


It was also a chance to get back into Crusaders action after breaking his thumb in the final stages of Super Rugby Aotearoa last year. He had also made up for weight loss suffered during last year's lockdown, something he felt would be necessary to sustain him, especially if the competition has three rounds this year.


Havili and halfback Mitchell Drummond are the only changes to the starting XV while Will Jordan returns from injury to the bench.

Coach Scott Robertson said the retention of second five-eighths Dallas McLeod was the result of his taking his chance last week, while also giving the side the ability to build some depth in the role.


"He's been patient, it's a hard team to crack so when you get the opportunity you want to take it, so we'll give him another one," he said.


It was the same with wing Leicester Fainga'anuku who had impressed with every outing and was a 'genuine power wing', he said.


"He's someone who will always break the first tackle, or bring three or four defenders in. He's great post-contact, he gets the ball away, he can unload. He brings another dimension to our back play."


Robertson said they had discussed the law transgressions they suffered last week and, as had been the case last year they expected to be able to adapt quickly.


The penalties conceded had not been cynical or for foul play, but they had put the team under pressure and they could probably have one a little better, he said.


Robertson said while the Hurricanes might miss the leadership of a competitive player like halfback TJ Perenara, now playing in Japan, it was a fact of rugby that teams moved on and he said they had not been far away in their game with the Blues last weekend.



But he was mindful of the Hurricanes winning the last time they played the Crusaders in Christchurch.


That loss last year had come down to discipline, and Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett putting over 50m penalty goals to keep the scoreboard ticking over and putting pressure on the Crusaders that they usually employed against other sides.


"It came down to some small moments, and that was the reminder [he gave the side]," he said.


"We're still aware of the power game breakers they have got," he said. Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape were power players who could change games quickly, they knew that having played them so often, and it was up to the Crusaders to contain them.


From the Crusaders perspective, he said the qualities wing Sevu Reece exhibited when scoring his try by pulling off so many components to get the ball down was a demonstration of the form he was in.


He was hungry after missing out on All Blacks opportunities last year and had worked hard to get back to his best.


Grab your tickets to Sunday's clash at Orangetheory Stadium HERE.