Scrum challenge will be lively in Hamilton

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The Chiefs are without All Blacks Nepo Laulala and Angus Ta'avao as a result of injuries while Crusaders All Black loosehead Joe Moody is playing his first game of the season.


Moody appreciated the delayed start he had been given but was looking forward to playing although he was aware how he would be feeling after his first game when waking on Sunday morning.


"The first couple of weeks are always hard both from the body and getting bumps and bruises and on the lungs and legs as well. Knowing it could be a shorter shift for me [40 minutes] could be a bit of a relief I guess," he said.


Moody was happy with his off-season and said he felt it had probably been his best, especially with the way he was feeling heading into the game with his conditioning.


"At the same time it is always different once you get back out on the field, it takes a bit to get that actual match fitness back, there's no substitute for that," he said.


One disappointment was not being able to go at it in competition with All Blacks team-mate Nepo Laulala who is out with a knee injury.


Moody felt that while the Chiefs might be without some of their All Blacks in the front row he felt it would be 'business as usual' as their back-ups would be up for the challenge.


"It's always a place we try to assert a bit of dominance but it makes no difference who they put in front of us," he said.


While the Chiefs had suffered losses up front loosehead Aidan Ross, a tryscorer in last week's win over the Blues (pictured) was looking forward to extra opportunities as a result.


"Any Crusaders pack is a pretty solid one and I know even though they've lost a few old heads there they've still got a few old heads in there. We know what's coming and we've just got to match fire with fire," he said.


They hadn't been happy with the way their scrum started against the Blues and they had worked on that in preparation for the Crusaders' game.


"There were a lot of things going on [in the early scrums] losing the hit was definitely one and a lot of connections. We've just got to feel that out and get time in the saddle really," he said.


With their All Blacks having a delayed start to the season they hadn't been able to work as hard in that area and they needed to put that experience to work, he said.


Having a former hooker as coach had been good for the side. Warren Gatland was not shy and if something needed to be said he didn't hold back, Ross said.


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