Robertson knows what to expect from Highlanders

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Crusaders coach Scott Robertson can call on 25 years of knowledge of the rivalry between his side and the Highlanders, first as a player in Investec Super Rugby but now as a coach.


He's expecting all of the usual fire and brimstone associated with the neighbourly derbies to be in evidence again when they meet in Christchurch on Friday.


There were times through the years when the Highlanders had the edge on the Crusaders but in recent times that advantage had switched to the Christchurch-based side and he was keen to keep it that way.


Robertson said the decision to rest captain and lock Scott Barrett was to give him a break due to a knock he had taken to the medial ligament against the Blues which would allow him to rehabilitate well with two weeks off with the bye coming next week.


He was happy they still had the experience of Luke Romano to cover Barrett's absence while Cullen Grace could cover lock and Ethan Roots will make his debut.


"It is quite exciting because each of the young fellows who have come in have stood up," he said.


Roots was another who could play blindside flank or lock. He had been an abrasive player in the Mitre 10 Cup, had a good edge and had picked up the required detail very quickly, Robertson said.


The side were well aware of their former teammate Mitch Hunt who was playing first five-eighths for the Highlanders.


"We know what he brings. He's been playing great footy for them. He's great under pressure and it's a hell of a match. He's a good man and a real professional. We'll treat him with respect on the field and look forward to having one with him after," he said.


Just as the Highlanders saw some benefits from what Hunt knew about the Crusaders for their preparation, the Crusaders were also aware of how Hunt could react in certain situations.


At the same time the Crusaders needed to be aware for the potential double bluff in Hunt not doing what was expected of him.


Robertson said the Highlanders had bounced back well from their first-up loss to the Sharks.


"Their performance against the Brumbies who are so tough to be over there, they stayed in the fight, they were committed and they probably had that belief in them that came out right at the end and got a result so they'll be buoyant after that.


"They'll be keen to come up here. We know that every game is a big game but when it's a derby against your southern neighbours it's always that more special," he said.





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