Havili to captain Crusaders in southern derby

David Havili will captain the Crusaders in Wanaka and spend time at 15 and 12. Photo: Getty Images
David Havili will captain the Crusaders in Wanaka and spend time at 15 and 12. Photo: Getty Images
The Crusaders have named their squad to face the Highlanders in Friday's final hit out before the Super Rugby season starts.

The squad of 26 contains no All Blacks. However, they are back at training this week.

The Farmlands Cup match on Friday night will provide an extended run for many in the squad who were given a 40min run out in Saturday's 40-19 win over the Hurricanes. That game saw the Crusaders run out two separate 15-man squads for each half.

Although the All Blacks in the squad won't get a run against any opposition other than in-house play before their opening match against the Waratahs in Nelson on February 1, coach Scott Robertson is confident they'll be ready.

"They're just training really hard," he said. 

"You get as much contact as you possibly can in and replicate a game like situation.

"They're fit naturally and they're excited which is the main thing," said Robertson.

Scott Robertson watching as the Crusaders accounted for the Hurricanes 40-19 in Ashburton at the...
Scott Robertson watching as the Crusaders accounted for the Hurricanes 40-19 in Ashburton at the weekend. Photo: Getty Images
The team to play the Highlanders will be captained by David Havili, while Will Jordan will start on the wing.

Robertson says the plan is for Havili to finish the game at 12 - a position he has played in the past and he's likely to see more minutes there this season with the rise of Jordan.

"I really like being at the back, but where ever the team needs me to play, I’ll play, whether that's at 12 or 15, I'm pretty comfortable in both positions," said Havili.

Another player who could spend time at No 12 this year is 20-year-old Dallas McLeod.

The Methven product will start at 12 on Friday, in spite of spending the majority of his time with Canterbury during the Mitre 10 Cup on the wing.

"(McLeod's) a 12," said Robertson. 

"He came through school as a 12 at Christ's College.

"He got a lot of game time on the wing for Canterbury, but he's a midfielder."

In the forwards, Tom Christie will get to stake his claim for the No 7 jersey with Billy Harmon out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

New recruit Sione Havili is on the bench and could also be an option.

"Sione can play seven and eight,"  said Robertson.

Flanker Tom Christie will push his case for the Crusaders' No 7 jersey when the season begins due...
Flanker Tom Christie will push his case for the Crusaders' No 7 jersey when the season begins due to the absence of Billy Harmon. Photo: Getty Images
"Tom Christie is pretty much an out and out seven who can cover six at a push, so we've got cover there."

The Crusaders coach also spoke highly of Christie's fitness levels.

With the game being player at a faster pace than years gone by, his natural fitness could be a key contributor to Christie's success.

"I've always enjoyed fitness and prided myself on being able to be fit," said Christie. 

"It's probably just the way my parents raised me to be hard working and keep going until the body really starts to hurt."

  • The match at the Wanaka A&P Showgrounds kicks off at 6pm.

Crusaders squad to play the Highlanders: Isi Tu'ungafasi 1, Andrew Makalio 2, Michael Alaalatoa 3, Mitchell Dunshea 4, Quinten Strange 5, Tom Sanders 6, Tom Christie 7, Whetu Douglas 8, Mitchell Drummond 9, Brett Cameron 10, Leicester Faingaanuku 11, Dallas McLeod 12, Braydon Ennor 13, Will Jordan 14, David Havili (c) 15. Reserves: Brodie McAlistair 16, George Bower 17, Oliver Jager 18, Cullen Grace 19, Sione Havili 20, Bryn Hall 21, Fergus Burke 22, Manasa Mataele 23, Harry Allan 24, Luke Romano 25, Fetuli Paea.

 

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