Codie Taylor expecting 'dangerous' Highlanders outfit with Tony Brown at the helm

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That danger was down to the return of coach Tony Brown who could come up with the odd unusual play.

"That's awesome because it means you have to really do your homework," he said.

Taylor said there had been an intensity shift in preparation for the Crusaders. Those involved in the full pre-season preparation had laid a good foundation.

"So we're ready to get into it, it's going to be an awesome occasion down there in 'O' [Orientation] week, so it is pretty exciting," he said.

While he had only 40 minutes in the side's second pre-season game, it had been good to get the feeling of game fitness and to have that under his belt ahead of the season opener.

"Under the roof it is going to be a pretty fast game, I imagine," he said.

Taylor, who stepped in as captain when lock Scott Barrett had to relinquish the role due to injury last year, was happy to step back.

Barrett was an astute leader and it was great to see him slot back into his role. He was a player who everyone listened to.

"We know that he gives everything out there on the field," he said.

Law changes were something all sides were coping with and they would take time to bed down but the potential loss of scrums was a concern.

In one of the Crusaders' pre-season games, there were only three scrums.

"I suppose it speeds the game up and those big boys will be a bit fresher around the park to get a few more ball carries," he said.

Coach Scott Robertson said the choice of Dallas McLeod at second five-eighths was a result of his pre-season form and it was a chance to get a combination going with Jack Goodhue.

It came about because of the injury suffered by David Havili in Hamilton but he was expected to recover quickly.

Robertson said they had discussed the high number of penalties the side suffered in pre-season games, especially the off-side rulings. That came down to being too keen but they needed to be disciplined in those sorts of areas.

"It's better a week early than a week late," he said.

Into his fifth season in the role, Robertson said a lot of his attention had been on keeping his winning combination inspired and excited.

"I've done a lot of work with the leadership group in the off-season on how we can be better with our game management and dealing with big moments," he said.

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