The Crusaders kick off their Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign on Sunday when they are hosted by the Hurricanes, after sitting out the opening round with a bye. The Hurricanes will be looking to tidy up a few things from their loss against the Blues on Sunday morning 05h00 SA time.
Hurricanes: Ardie Savea entered the game midway through the second half of the Hurricanes loss to the Blues last weekend. It was Savea’s first game back since injuring his knee at the World Cup semi-final in October. Vaea Fifita was named on the bench but was a late scratching with a toe injury. The pair are set to bolster the Hurricanes forward pack who know their line out has to be better than it was at Eden Park.
Head coach, Jason Holland says the team has been working hard. “We must perform better in some key areas of the game and we have worked hard during the week to improve.”
Holland says the team is excited to be hosting a derby at home in front of fans. “We can’t wait to play at our home stadium and are excited to play again in front of our awesome fans. Performing in front of them is a big driver for us this week.”
Hurricanes: 1. Fraser Armstrong 2. Dane Coles (cc) 3. Tyrel Lomax 4. James Blackwell 5. Vaea Fifita 6. Reed Prinsep 7. Du’Plessis Kirifi 8. Ardie Savea 9. TJ Perenara (cc) 10. Jackson Garden-Bachop 11. Ben Lam 12. Ngani Laumape 13. Vince Aso 14. Wes Goosen 15. Chase Tiatia. 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
Crusaders: Head Coach Scott Robertson has named his team to travel to Wellington tomorrow ahead of Sunday afternoon's clash with the Hurricanes and, while it includes eight All Blacks in the starting side, the Crusaders will be without regular Captain Scott Barrett.
26-year-old Barrett has been ruled out of this game with a foot injury, meaning hooker Codie Taylor has an opportunity to Captain the side for the first time. Returning lock Sam Whitelock joins the starting line up alongside Mitch Dunshea.
It is also a welcome return to play for Vice-Captain David Havili (abdominal surgery) and loose forward Ethan Blackadder (shoulder), who have both been named on the bench.
Three months after undergoing emergency bowel surgery, David Havili is back on the bench for the Crusaders. An infection saw the 25-year-old hospitalised with surgery to remove 20 centimetres from his bowel. His stats were impressive early on in the Super Rugby competition this year. He made a competition-high 14 offloads, made 258 metres and 45 carries in four matches. His versatility is key for the Crusaders and he’s going to offer a huge amount of skill off the pine on Sunday.
Robertson spoke to local media in Christchurch today and said the team is excited to prepare for a game this week after watching on last weekend: "It's a great feeling to get into a game week and there's a lot of excitement in the group..." he said.
"Your home games are really, really important and to win away is a big task so they'll [Hurricanes] be protecting their patch and we're excited to get up there."
Crusaders: 1. Joe Moody 2. Codie Taylor © 3. Michael Alaalatoa 4. Samuel Whitelock 5. Mitchell Dunshea 6. Cullen Grace 7. Billy Harmon 8. Whetukamokamo Douglas 9. Bryn Hall 10. Richie Mo’unga 11. George Bridge 12. Jack Goodhue 13. Braydon Ennor 14. Sevu Reece 15. Will Jordan. Replacements: 16. Brodie McAlister 17. George Bower 18. Oliver Jager 19. Luke Romano 20. Ethan Blackadder 21. Mitchell Drummond 22. David Havili (vc) 23. Leicester Faingaanuku
The Crusaders have won their last five Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Hurricanes; the last time they won more in succession against them was a seven-game stretch from 2005 to 2008.
The Hurricanes have won five of their last six Super Rugby games at home to the Crusaders; however, their sole loss in that span came in their most recent home meeting against them.
The Hurricanes will be aiming to avoid back-to-back Super Rugby defeats at home for the first time since Round 4, 2014 after losing 24-15 to the Blues in their most recent game on home turf.
The Hurricanes have lost two of their last three Super Rugby games (W1) and will be out to avoid back-to-back regular-season defeats for the first time since June 2018.
The Crusaders have won nine of their last 10 Super Rugby games (L1), including their last four on the bounce; those nine wins have come by an average margin of 23 points per game.
The Crusaders have lost two of their last three games in Super Rugby away to fellow New Zealand opponents (W1), scoring an average of just 22 points per game in that stretch.
The Hurricanes players beat a combined 42 defenders in their last Super Rugby encounter with the Crusaders; only once in the last decade has any Hurricanes squad beaten more in a single game (43 v Sunwolves in Round 1, 2017).
The Crusaders conceded just six first-half tries during the 2020 Super Rugby season, the joint-fewest of any team in the competition.
Ben Lam (Hurricanes) has crossed for a try in each of his last five Super Rugby games – the longest streak of his career in the competition; he has also bagged four tries in his last four games against the Crusaders.
David Havili (Crusaders) made a competition-high 14 offloads throughout the 2020 Super Rugby season; it is as many as he had made throughout the previous 29 games of his career in the competition.