Crusaders ready for strong Chiefs challenge

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Expected back in the lineup are prop Joe Moody and wings George Bridge and Sevu Reece while it is also likely that minor groin and knee strains suffered by first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga would not prevent him playing.


Assistant coach Scott Hansen said the groin strain was the reason Mo'unga hadn't don the goal-kicking at the weekend but he was fine, his strains were minor, and he was expected to bounce back quickly.


The team management had been excited by the way their debutants played against the Waratahs in Nelson.


"It was a first hit-out, there's a lot of areas for us to clean up and we've worked on that this week," he said.


The Chiefs would be a massive challenge.


"We thought they played really well at the weekend against the Blues. They showed great composure to come back and they've done that against us also, previously, so we've acknowledged that we're in for a massive challenge this weekend in front of their people and we're excited by that," he said.


Former All Black first five-eighths Aaron Cruden had been a key player in the side's second half rugby and Hansen said that was also exciting.


"It's exciting to see him back in New Zealand rugby and bringing his experience into the Chiefs, he's a fine player and he managed the game really well for the Chiefs and essentially put the ball in behind the Blues and turned them around. It was a game changer really.


"So we're expecting good game understanding from him and how we influence that hopefully we'll see at the weekend," he said.


The Crusaders midfield pairing of second five-eighths Jack Goodhue and centre Braydon Ennor had worked well. They were two good athletes who worked well off each other and who had good speed.


"We're excited by that combination but there are also some other guys who will push that and challenge that also and that's exciting," he said.


There was also pressure on the outside backs with so much talent available and the management would be selecting the team they felt could best do the job for them this week.


Ennor said the Crusaders were aware they had left a lot of points out on the field and hadn't done as well as they could have against the Waratahs.


They knew it would be a different story in a New Zealand derby against the Chiefs, especially at their Hamilton home.


"I love playing alongside Jack. I think we're complementing each other well. We obviously get along well on and off the field, having chats through the week and getting it right on Saturday," he said


Lining up against fellow All Black Anton Lienert-Brown, who was a player capable of lifting the Chiefs, was something Ennor was looking forward to.


Ennor acknowledged the benefits of following on from Crusaders stalwart Ryan Crotty, who had done so much for the side and had prepared the midfield players for the time when he was no longer involved.


"He left us with a few quotes of wisdom," he said.


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