'The game will be won up front' expected to be the case in Saturday's final

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Crusaders assistant coach, and scrummaging specialist, Jason Ryan said the Chiefs scrum had been performing well and was a benchmark in the competition.

"I think Nick White's done a great job with those boys and they're scrummaging well as a unit, they're connected and they're going to be a good battle for us on Saturday night," he said.

Replacement prop George Bower had performed well since stepping up for the injured All Black Joe Moody.


"It's pretty special for him now to go on and have higher honours potentially. He fronts in games like this in the finals, that's when the All Blacks selectors will be really looking at it so I'm really happy with how he's gone, he's leaving his mark well there," he said.

The Blues scrum caused some early problems in the Crusaders' last outing, but the champions had recovered.

"I've always said scrummaging is a little bit like a rowing eight, you need everyone working together at the same time. A couple there against the Blues we weren't, we didn't really fire. I challenge the boys on problem solving and working out what's going to happen next and making sure they've got solutions," he said.

Moody had undergone surgery on his foot, but when he returns to play is uncertain, Ryan said. Lock Quinten Strange had suffered a high ankle sprain and would not be available for the final. How long it would be before he returned was not clear yet.

Ryan said the preparation for the final centred around a 'slow build' that they needed to manage correctly. It was a case of not overloading players with information.

"Every final is different. We know there is a huge increase in pressure. We love that. That is where this team wants to live. We're looking forward to that.

"We know the Chiefs are on a high at the moment, there's a lot of hype around them, as there should be, they're playing some good rugby. I don't know if it helps or not but we're definitely experienced in big moments and we look forward to that," he said.


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