Tamati Ellison preparing to take on former side in Wellington

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It would be a special challenge, he said.

 

He had five years with the Hurricanes as a player. He had plenty of good memories of those days, but the only player from his time still playing was Jimmy Gopperth in England.

 

"But Porirua is home for me so it will be good to go back and see my family, my children," he said.

 

But the week would be about respecting the opposition while also respecting themselves.

 

The Hurricanes are desperate for a win while the Crusaders were looking to pick themselves up after their record-breaking 12-33 loss to the Highlanders last week.

 

"It's important that we train to win," Ellison said.

 

"From a loss, it's real, it's visceral. When you have [won] four in a row, there's a chance that maybe that it doesn't cut as deep. We've just got to be honest in our processes and make sure we're honest in our preparation every week," he said.

 

Ellison said it didn't take a loss to highlight there were things every week that needed to be improved.

 

The Crusaders were always trying to get better.

 

 

"We've got a team waiting for us in Wellington on Sunday, so that's where we'll turn our focus," he said.

 

Despite his late connection with the Crusaders, Ellison said he had enjoyed the environment.

 

"The boys have been really good, the team has been super welcoming, and it's allowed me to get into the work really fast. It's still a work in progress, obviously, young coach, and it doesn't stop week-to-week.

 

"All the coaches have been really good at mentoring me, giving me good honest feedback, things I can do better. Just like the players, and like everyone here, it's important we're open to feedback because feedback allows us to get better, and they have been great," he said.

 

Ellison said the opening of a trans-Tasman bubble with Australia was timely for New Zealand's teams.

 

That was down to the familiarity resulting from playing each other so often.

 

Ellison said that having to play three rounds of games against New Zealand sides might have been too much, especially when remembering they played some teams in pre-season games, so that would be four times in a year.

 

It could be a challenge for some players to prepare for games under those circumstances.

 

"It's like fighting a younger brother, you always know you can beat him," he said.

 

Of the teams involved, he felt the Rebels, who he also played Super Rugby for, and the Reds had impressed under Brad Thorn's coaching. They were starting to find some shape and identity, he said.