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Crusaders ready for Barrett-led Hurricanes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/05/2017

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Shutting down Beauden Barrett, or at least reducing his influence, is the task confronting the Crusaders as they look to maintain their unbeaten start to the Super Rugby season.

The Hurricanes come to Christchurch on Saturday riding a six-match winning streak since they were beaten by the Chiefs in round three.

The Crusaders lead the competition with a 10-from-10 record but are second to the Hurricanes in terms of points scored despite last week's 62-24 crushing of the Bulls, which ended nine years of pain at Loftus Versfeld.

However, coach Scott Robertson says it is his team's defence which will be thrust under the spotlight as they figure out how to halt a Hurricanes scoring machine conducted by All Blacks playmaker Barrett.

"They are a creative side," Robertson said of the Hurricanes.

"They have got a great skill set and can take any opportunity in front of them and with the players they have got they can break things open at any time so it is a bit different to what we have played the last few weeks."

Robertson says Barrett's variety of kicks, most notably his cross-kicks to the wing, form a central part of the Hurricanes' attack.

He says the Crusaders are well aware of the threat posed by that but equally if the ball goes wide to a muscular visiting backline.

"They have got a lot of power players in the backline and it is just a great well-rounded team so we will look to dominate the contact and the less opportunities you give them (will be important)," he said.

Barrett's younger brother Jordie has been a constant weapon in the absence of injured Hurricanes fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Robertson pointed out they have their own equivalent in David Havili, who has impressed with his power and elusiveness will filling in for injured All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg.

"Dave has been consistent and taken opportunities," Robertson said.

"He's got good footwork and a great kicking game but the biggest thing for us is his positional play where he has been absolutely superb."

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