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Impressive Havili to remain at the back

Newshub logoNewshub 29/05/2017

Impressive Havili to remain at the back © Matt Tewhatu Impressive Havili to remain at the back The versatility that's led to David Havili being mentioned as a possible bolter for the All Blacks end of year tour is the same versatility that could hinder his chances of cracking the international side, according to Crusaders assistant coach Leon MacDonald.

David Havili has starred at fullback for the Crusaders in the absence of stalwart Israel Dagg, forcing the returning Dagg to wing in his comeback match against the Rebels on the weekend.

But not having a specialist position could be his downfall.

"One of his biggest strengths is his biggest weakness, he's so versatile and he can do a job for you anywhere," MacDonald said.

"With Izzy's [Dagg] injury to his knee, it's meant he's had the luxury of playing a lot of games in one position and he's been outstanding hasn't he?"

MacDonald knows all too well the impact a change of position can have on a player.

© Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited A move from fullback to the centres during the All Blacks ill-fated 2003 Rugby World Cup campaign almost ruined his international career.

Subsequently, while he made a return to the All Blacks in 2005, the now 39-year-old never played in the centres again.

That being said, the coaching team are cautious to move Havili out of the fullback position now he's seemingly found a home at the back, even with Dagg's return.

"We're pretty conscious that he's settled there and he's doing a good job and he's enjoying it…

"We don't want to tinker around with that too much, we don't want to mess with a winning formula."

The Crusaders have no reason to make any changes at the back.

On a 13 from 13 undefeated run this season, they've seen off every challenger that's come their way.

With Dagg clearly a winger in the eyes of the All Blacks selectors for the upcoming Lions series, there'll be no external pressures to change the line-up either.

© Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited The acid test for Havili comes this weekend - a direct match-up with current All Black fullback Ben Smith.

A test that MacDonald says Havili is ready for.

"He's an immense talent, he's amazingly skillful, he's got great feet, and probably most of all he's mentally really tough.

"He's resilient and loves a challenge, he's a real competitor, and he's bringing that every week."

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