Crusaders keep looking for improvements

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Lynn McConnell     07 Mar 2018     Getty Images

Fullback David Havili said the slow start the Crusaders made to the second half was one area they had concentrated on and they would be looking to improve that next time around.

"We've got to be consistent through the whole game and keep playing our structures and managing our attack and making smart decisions on attack, so it's going to be another big game for us," he said.

Having played and trained with several of the Hurricanes with the All Blacks was no advantage in reading how they might play.

It was necessary to go into the game with an open mindset on defence and having done their homework very well to cover whatever happened on game day, he said.

Havili, as a Tasman teammate of likely first five-eighths Mitchell Hunt, said he would bring some excitement to the backline if starting after the broken jaw suffered by Richie Mo'unga.

"He's a great player to be around in the backline, his commentating on the field is really good so I'm really excited to see how he goes," he said.

"The Hurricanes are a threat across the park so we've got to cover all our bases, it's going to be a big challenge.

As with all sides the threat of Beauden Barrett was a key feature of preparation.

"Beaudy's a massive player for the Hurricanes and he'll bring a lot of enthusiasm for their backline now that they're on their home patch so he's going to be one to watch," he said.

That was reinforced by assistant coach Ronan O'Gara who said: "You can have all the plans in the world for Beauden Barrett but yet he could rip you apart, that's what he's good at. You've got to have a focus on him but you've got to have a team focus. That's the strength of the Crusaders they're very good on bigger picture stuff.

"We have a competitive squad, we have a hungry squad and we have a seriously hungry coach," he said.

"Sport is about what you can control and what we can control is our preparation for the Hurricanes. Whether it will be good enough we don't know but if it isn't you go back and retry the following week."

To turn their record around at Wellington, the Crusaders needed to do a lot of things well.

"I think what is good about this environment at the minute is we try and concentrate on what we need to improve and what we are good at and we're good at plenty of things. The players drive themselves hard and get the best out of each other but we're fully realistic about the quality of the opposition.

"It's away from home, that can be either a negative or a positive, depending on what mindset you bring but it's still a great opportunity to play in a great stadium on a fast surface so we're excited about that," he said.