Crusaders side named: Robertson's men look to get back on track

Oliver Jager (left) will make his third consecutive start at tighthead prop for the Crusaders....
Oliver Jager (left) will make his third consecutive start at tighthead prop for the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images
The Crusaders may be coming off a rare defeat - but they haven't hit the panic button ahead of Friday night's derby against the Blues in Auckland.

Scott Robertson's men come into the round three clash on the back of a frustrating 15-23 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Robertson believes the main lessons from the game were around momentum, executing in critical moments, and making good decisions - not only his players, but officials too, he said.

"We weren't beaten on effort it was just a couple of details and calls that didn't go our way and that's footy.

"They're a good side the Chiefs. It was really important they win their first game at home and there was a lot of passion," said Robertson.

"We created a lot of opportunities. It would have been nice to have a couple of decisions go our way."

Recent history would have the Crusaders as heavy favorites in Auckland.  The Crusaders have defeated the Blues in their last 10 Super Rugby meetings.

The last time they came out on the wrong side of the board was in 2014 when the Blues won 35-24 at Eden Park.

Scott Robertson. Photo: Getty Images
Scott Robertson. Photo: Getty Images
However, Robertson believes the opening two rounds of this year's competition have shown what the Blues are capable of, particularly in the final 10min of their 32 -12 win over the Waratahs at the weekend.

"They can rip you apart. They've got a lot of power and they're well structured, Leon [McDonald] is a good coach.

"We expect nothing, but the best from them. It's a good rivalry," said Robertson.

The Crusaders will be boosted by the return of Richie Mo'unga. His selection in the No 10 jersey sees David Havili move back to fullback and Will Jordan move to the bench.

In the forwards, Whetu Douglas is out after breaking two fingers. His absence means Timaru youngster Cullen Grace will get the start at No 6 with Tom Sanders moving to No 8.

Tight-head prop Oliver Jager will start his third straight game for the Crusaders in what is already becoming his most involved season for the Crusaders since earning a Super Rugby contract in 2017.

The 24-year-old Irishman moved to Christchurch almost seven years ago and began playing for New Brighton before making his way through the ranks.

"There was definitely no expectations. I just kind of came over for a little bit of footy, to meet a new crowd of people, and be in a different part of the world," said Jager. 

"I guess when I got into the academy and then went through the Canterbury team that's when it started becoming a bit of a dream.

"But when I first came over, playing for the Crusaders wasn't an expectation," said Jager.

The former Ireland under-18 schools' rep says the tutelage of playing under Owen Franks has been a key to his development.

One man who knows what it's like to play with both men is hooker Codie Taylor. He says there's not much difference between the two.

"Ollie's really stepped up this year. He's had a couple of [injury] setbacks over his career," said Taylor. 

"I actually remember when he showed up in Christchurch as an 18-year-old, he was playing blindside flanker and I thought he was probably 30 at that stage, the way he looks.

"He's a beast. He's strong, fit and eager to learn, which is awesome to have when you lose someone like Owen Franks," said Taylor.

  • Crusaders v Blues kicks off at Eden Park, Friday 7.05pm.

Crusaders squad: Joe Moody 1, Codie Taylor 2, Oliver Jager 3, Scott Barrett (c) 4, Mitchell Dunshea 5, Cullen Grace 6, Tom Christie 7, Tom Sanders 8, Brynn Hall 9, Richie Mo'unga 10, George Bridge 11, Jack Goodhue 12, Braydon Ennor 13, Sevu Reece 14, David Havili 15. Reserves: Andrew Makalio 16, George Bower 17, Michael Allalatoa 18, Luke Romano 19, Sione Havili 20, Mitchell Drummond 21, Brett Cameron 22, Will Jordan 23.