Execution priority for new-look Crusaders

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The attention to achieving the required level of execution would ensure the tackle demands would not be so high.

 

That would be important given the number of changes made to the side.

 

Coach Scott Robertson said the game had been targeted as a rest game for their All Blacks since before the season started, especially considering the amount of travel time getting to, and back from, Japan on the original schedule.

 

"We've got great depth in our squad and every time one of them has been given an opportunity they've taken it," he said.

 

"We've seen what Cullen [Grace] can do, his ability to influence on defence, he can carry a ball, he's got a great skill set and can play [on the] back of the scrum so that allows us to play Tom [Christie], the tackle machine, Sione's [Havili] got a bit of power so it's a good mix," he said.

 

Another getting a chance was first five-eighths Brett Cameron. Robertson acknowledged that it was tough covering behind a top five-eighths like Richie Mo'unga.

 

"You sit on the bench a lot and we know that it was tough on Mitch Hunt as well when you've got a great first five. You're normally the last person off, if you put them on early you've got no one on the bench for a long period and then if you get an injury there are only 14 players so we've had those conversations with him.

 

"He's trained extremely well the last few weeks and now is his time," he said.

 

It had been tough getting minutes for Cameron because of the nature of this season's draw but he had a lengthy spell against the Highlanders and had performed well.

 

Halfback Bryn Hall (pictured) has been given the captaincy of the side, and that was down to experience with North Harbour in the Mitre 10 Cup and also the respect he had among the players while George Bridge was named vice-captain along with lock Luke Romano.

 

Hall said he had played under some great captains since being with the Crusaders and he had good leaders around him so was looking forward to the challenge in Brisbane.

 

The game was a great opportunity for the players selected for the game. There had been a lot of hard work behind the scenes for the game over the last few weeks and it was an exciting time, he said.

 

Hall was the hub of a key area at halfback with Cullen Grace playing No 8 for the first time in front of him and Brett Cameron starting outside at first five-eighths.

 

Grace had been working at No 8 during the pre-season while they had been putting in a lot of work during the week while he had played with Cameron in Sydney last year.

 

"He's been going well and like a lot of people, they're looking for opportunities. Bretty has been champing at the bit, he's had a great week and I'm looking forward to having a combination with him this week," he said.

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