You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Crusaders brace for emotional Brumbies

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/02/2017

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson wonders if the Brumbies will carry extra emotion into their Super Rugby opening match following the death of Dan Vickerman.

Robertson joined the tributes to former Wallabies lock Vickerman who died last week.

The tough forward played for the Brumbies from 2001-03, a stint which included the 2002 final in Christchurch when he locked horns with No.8 Robertson in the victorious Crusaders side.

Robertson expects the Canberra-based side to put up a strong showing to honour Vickerman in a match between two of the competition's greatest rivals.

"He was a great player and also a great guy," Robertson said.

"I am sure they will bring plenty of effort and passion so it will be up to us to match that.

"We've played in lots of finals with the results going both ways and it's sure to be another good one on Saturday night."

Robertson has named former New Zealand age group star Jack Goodhue at centre and Chiefs recruit Seta Tamanivalu on the wing, with both to make their first Crusaders appearances.

Robertson believes he has found the ideal outside back mix to cater for the departure of blockbusting Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo.

"This is the best balance we've had in the backline for a while," he said.

"Seta has a great skill set and Jack's physical testing is better than ever and his left boot as improved."

Bryn Hall will start at halfback after moving south from the Blues, with regular Crusaders No.9 Mitchell Drummond not far away from a return from a broken leg he suffered at training last September.

Fullback Israel Dagg, who will play his 100th Super Rugby match and 75th for the Crusaders, says he is excited to begin a season under a completely new coaching regime of Robertson and assistants Leon MacDonald and Brad Mooar.

"Toddy (Blackadder) and Tabai (Matson) were awesome for this franchise and I loved being coached by them but this is something new, like going to a new school," he said.

"Leon was an absolute legend and played fullback for a real long time so for me it's about getting that experience from him.

"Razor (Robertson) has also played that high level of footy so he has that experience that he can pass on to the younger guys. He thinks he can still put the suit on and run around with the lads."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon