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Bird embracing Crusaders locking duel

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/05/2017

Chiefs lock Dominic Bird would like nothing more than to get one over his old Crusaders teammates. © Scott Barbour/Getty Images Chiefs lock Dominic Bird would like nothing more than to get one over his old Crusaders teammates. Dominic Bird is looking forward to a titanic battle of the air against his former teammates when the Chiefs meet the Crusaders in Suva on Friday.

Chiefs lock Bird was forced to leave the southern franchise following the 2013 season after struggling to get game time despite having gained two tests for the All Blacks early in his career.

The 26-year-old lock, who is still a member of the Canterbury NPC squad, has played rugby with a number of the Crusaders' squad.

"Playing against anyone that you know gives you a bit more motivation," Bird said.

He's only missed one game for the Chiefs all year but is still feeling fresh ahead of the business end of the season.

The Chiefs are aware that losing to the Crusaders will effectively hand the Christchurch-based side the New Zealand conference.

However they remain confident, having not lost a New Zealand derby this season, while they defeated the southern men twice last year.

"It's a crucial time of the season as these are pivotal games, especially when you're fighting with a couple of teams for that top spot and there is a lot riding on it but we're looking forward to it," Bird said.

The Chiefs brought in All Black assistant coach Mike Cron at training during the week to help with their scrum as they prepare to face the much vaunted Crusaders pack.

Bird, who is New Zealand's tallest rugby player at 2.06m, recently extended his contract with the Chiefs for another season as he chases an All Black jersey.

"It's definitely a goal but the main focus is just playing well each weekend," he said.

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