Crusaders preparing for in-squad game as they look to defend their Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa title

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Assistant coach Andrew Goodman said the side had been building towards their first hit-out over the past three weeks and it would be a chance for them to show the progressions they had been able to make in that time.

 

"They'll look forward to it, especially those big boys up front, they like getting amongst it and getting physical," he said.

 

The return of the All Blacks this week had lifted the intensity of training which would be good for the preparation for Friday's game.

 

Goodman said his development as a coach had been boosted after Tasman's success in retaining the Mitre 10 Cup last year while his work with the Crusaders, both the coaches and players, had helped in his coaching education.

 

"I've got different portfolios in both [teams], so it's a chance to grow different parts of my coaching. I love this experience down here," he said.

 

Several of the Crusaders had also benefited from their exposure to Test rugby with the All Blacks during the end-of-season Tri Nations campaign last year and prop George Bower had been typical of that.

 

"He's come back a big boy. The All Blacks' set-up was ideal for him. He was over there for a month, two months on hotel food where he didn't have to worry about getting his meals prepared and the ability to train in the gym for a lot of the time because he wasn't out on the field playing so many minutes.

 

 

"I think that period for a lot of our boys was amazing in terms of the conditioning they got through and for him to come back and hold that size but also hold his ability to get around the field with his agility and his point of difference around the field [was good]."

 

Goodman said like all sides the Crusaders were interested in wondering where Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck might appear after news that he was set to make a switch back to rugby next year

 

"I think he's an Auckland boy, so it will be hard to get him out of there," Goodman said.

 

"Any of the five teams would love to have him. It will be interesting to see where he goes."

 

Goodman doubted the league star would have any issues making the switch.

 

"I think Roger has got an advantage that he played rugby throughout his school career. Just getting back used to the ruck and the breakdown and all those little different variations in rugby.

 

"As you've seen throughout his career with the Warriors, [he's got a] pretty amazing skill set, I'm sure they'll transfer over well," he said.

 

While the Blues had been touted as his most likely choice, he would be a danger whoever he played for. His skills would ensure that.

 

"[Those skills would be] counter-attack, he will be amazing. That skill set will carry over from rugby league, just dangerous around the ball with his footwork that he possesses

 

"Whoever he does play for, and whoever comes up against him will have to be right on with their defence," he said.

 

Goodman felt Tuivasa-Sheck would be best placed at fullback or wing, with the wing being the easiest position to transfer back into rugby.

 

Loose forward Whetukamokamo Douglas said players had been talking about him and where he might end up.

 

"When I think of him, he's a professional, inspirational leader, and a talented athlete as well. Rugby in general, it will be awesome to have him come over," he said.

 

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