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Crusaders expect anything from Highlanders

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/06/2017
Crusaders © Getty Images Crusaders

The Crusaders are bracing for an unpredictable Highlanders assault when the owners of two lengthy Super Rugby winning streaks clash in Christchurch.

The unbeaten Crusaders have won all 13 matches and can clinch the New Zealand conference if successful in a rare afternoon fixture on Saturday.

They host a Highlanders team who have shaken off a patchy start to win nine games on the trot, a formline which still isn't enough to lift them above fourth in the tough Kiwi division.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson is excited by the chance to play in daylight and expects the Highlanders to throw everything at them.

"I've never had more people ask for tickets in my whole career so everyone is on it," he said.

"They [the Highlanders] have got creative minds so we are well aware that they are innovative. They're going to run a few more specials than Briscoes I think."

The Crusaders welcome back Matt Todd and Ryan Crotty after they missed last week's clash with the Rebels.

Robertson is delighted to have a near-full-strength squad to choose from for their last competition game for six weeks.

He hopes no injuries emerge ahead of their highly-anticipated match next week against the touring British and Irish Lions.

"They [Crotty and Todd] probably could have played last week but what we've learnt this year is we trust our whole squad," Robertson said.

"It allowed them to really go through those processes in their own time [which] has been perfect for them."

The battle of the fullbacks is a mouth-watering one, with visiting Test No.15 Ben Smith going up against the in-form Crusaders fullback David Havili, who has held his spot at the back despite the return from injury of Israel Dagg last week.

Havili is looking forward to locking horns with Smith.

"Ben is a world-class player and I can't wait to run out against him," Havili said.

"I love his style and the way he breaks tackles [and his] counter-attack is really awesome to watch.

"It's going to be a challenge but one I am looking forward to."

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