Crusaders wary of Force history

Getty Images

Lynn McConnell     23 Mar 2017     Getty Images

Coach Scott Robertson said sides coming off byes tended to have some variations in their game and the Force were a side who had played well so far and they were fighting for more than just points in the face of all the controversy in Australia about their future.

He was also aware of the traditionally tight contests the sides have had over the years.

"They fight for everything and the way they are structuring their kicking game puts us under a lot of pressure and we have done a lot of work around that to put the balance right," he said.

All Black Scott Barrett will start on the blindside flank for the game, something he had been practising for several weeks now and it would give some depth in the squad, Robertson said.

"He's a great athlete, he's really clear in his role and gives us another lineout option so for him it's something he can add, maybe in the level up if he needs to create an extra level of opportunity to be selected."

Prop Joe Moody and No.8 Whetu Douglas were being given a break for the game in order to do some conditioning after both had played in each of the side's games this year.

It was also an opportunity for Tim Perry, who Robertson said had played well when coming on against the Reds, to get some more game time.

Wyatt Crockett would get the start at loosehead prop and as the most experienced Crusader that was exciting, he said.

Back from injury will be flanker Matt Todd and wing Digby Ioane.

Todd had been 'gutted' to miss games and it was good to welcome such a stalwart of the side back, he said.

Ioane had recovered from his broken finger very quickly and it was good to have them back, Robertson said.

Likely to make his debut is loose forward Mitchell Dunshea. He had been in the squad for a couple of years and with the way they had worked the loose forwards it provided an opportunity to play him. He was a tough player and deserved his chance, he said.