Crusaders expecting huge battle with Aussie champs

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They will also have to do without their captain and lock Scott Barrett and wing George Bridge.


Barrett had been unwell and was undergoing tests so was left at home for that process while Bridge had suffered appendicitis which has ended his Super Rugby season.


Mitchell Dunshea will replace Barrett while Leicester Fainga'anuku will start on the wing. Whetukamokamo Douglas is on the blindside flank with Ethan Blackadder moving to the openside flank.


Coach Scott Robertson was prepared for a tough contest and was keen for the side to head to Brisbane attempting to regain the intensity in their play that took them to the Super Rugby Aotearoa title.


"We had it there for 70 minutes last week. We know how tough it is, especially with the Reds there. We know it is a cauldron, it's a big occasion, the 10-year anniversary since they pipped us in the final. We just want to get excited by it," he said.


The Reds would have moved on from last week's loss to the Highlanders, and Robertson said they understood how tough it was to have to quickly get over winning a competition to start all over again.


"We're on tour now for a couple of weeks, so you adapt to what's in front of you," he said.



"What we know about the Reds is they have a lot of guys who can break the game open, they're powerful, they're quick. When they hold the ball or get their kick-game right, they're as good as anyone in the competition, especially in Suncorp.


"They've won some tight ones and they can blow you away if they're right on. They've got some great talent," he said.


Lock Sam Whitelock said it was tough for Bridge, who had come back from injury and was on the cusp of getting his rhythm and flow back, only to suffer another setback.


The side had a normal week's preparation after having a couple of compressed weeks, he said.


As one of the few players who experienced the 2011 season and all the travel that occurred as the result of a lack of a home venue after the earthquake of that year, Whitelock said that although they hadn't finished the job in Brisbane, it remained one of his most memorable campaigns.


They had been gutted to lose the final but were lifted by the show of support when they arrived at Christchurch Airport to find a crowd of between 5-10,000 people at 1 am, wanting to show their support for what the team had done for the city.


Whitelock said knowing Brad Thorn's approach, the Reds were always going to be a tough proposition in the forwards, but they also had some quality backs with x-factor who would need to be contained.



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