Crusaders look to launch from Tasman base

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With several Tasman players in the side it is also recognition of the special place the region has achieved in the New Zealand game over the past decade when the side shook off issues of amalgamation with long-time rival Marlborough to forge a winning relationship.


Assistant coach Andrew Goodman (pictured with David Havili and Mitch Drummond) said being part of the Crusaders had been good for Tasman. Their maiden Mitre 10 Cup win last year capped a significant period of growth in the game. They also had an academy in Nelson that helped keep a lot of the local talent in the home area while also attracting players from outside.


It was unfortunate that one of the key members of the side, lock Quinten Strange wouldn't be able to be part of the game as he is out for four or five weeks with a fractured bone in his hand.


"[I'm] Really gutted for him, especially heading into this game at home. [He's a] Nelson College, Collingwood local lad. He was devastated. It was disappointing news for Quinten," he said.

The Waratahs would be under former Canterbury player and coach Rob Penney's hand for the game and Goodman said they were aware of how the Waratahs had been playing in pre-season.


They had some good young talent they were developing while the Crusaders were conscious also of the senior players Penney could call on.


One of the adjustments the Crusaders would have to make was in the midfield and Goodman was confident they had retained depth in that area after the loss of Ryan Crotty.


Jack Goodhue, Braydon Ennor and David Havili were All Blacks who all played in midfield, he said.


Goodhue could expect to play more at second five-eighths with Braydon Ennor in his preferred position at centre.


"He'll [Goodhue] be a big link for us in that 12-13 role with Crotts [Crotty's] experience gone, and maybe looking to use a little Braydon more at 13 this year, so Jack will get a bit more time at 12 for us," he said.


Goodman said he was enjoying his role in working with the backs.


"I'm loving it. I've got a pretty exciting bunch of young backs. I was lucky enough to work alongside and see what ROG [Ronan O'Gara] has done over the last couple of years, so we're just trying to grow that because it's all about getting better as a unit."


All the side's All Blacks would be available and would be introduced on their minute quotas.


"We're just going to have to use that wisely in the next couple of weeks," he said.


Having suffered some injury frustrations in his first two years of Super Rugby fullback Will Jordan was looking forward to getting into action on Saturday.

Jordan was going into the season looking to improve on his core skills, his catch-pass, his kicking game, one-on-one defence. They had always been a focus for him and in helping his skill execution.


He was also benefitting from working with Goodman who had brought him through the Makos team.


Goodman said of his charge: "He's got that speed that you can't coach and a bit of an eye for the gap but the thing that is impressing me is the stuff you don't see on the ball. His work rate to get into positions to receive the ball, his aerial skills are improving, his communication on defence, he's just going from strength to strength every week."


Jordan said Goodman had been a massive influence on his career and had been involved with him since he joined the Makos in 2017.


"I've got a great relationship with him," he said.


It would also be a benefit going into the game with the relationship from Tasman he enjoys with fellow Makos David Havili and Leicester Faingaanuku.


"I've particularly enjoyed working with Mark [Jones], who's come from a back-three background in the northern hemisphere and just some of his different ideas around positional play and work under the high ball," he said.


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