Host side Crusaders to start as favourites

The Crusaders are playing at home in Christchurch and are virtually unbeaten at the stadium in...
The Crusaders are playing at home in Christchurch and are virtually unbeaten at the stadium in Addington. Photo: Getty Images
Let's be honest. If there are two teams in Super Rugby southerners rank down the bottom on the admiration meter they would have to be the Chiefs and the Crusaders.

So with the two teams taking on each other in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition final, it may be hard to pick a winner — or even want to pick a winner.

The Crusaders will start as favourite. They are playing at home and are virtually unbeaten at the stadium in Addington. The side welcomes back All Black Braydon Ennor, who has been out for eight months with a knee injury. The side is going for its fifth title in a row.

It has lots of experience up front and in Richie Mo’unga the best player in the competition. It is his time to shine and if he can get some space and get on the front foot then the Crusaders should bag the win.

The Crusaders, like every side in the competition, have had their fair share of injury issues but will still field 10 past or present All Blacks in their starting team.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said no matter how often it happened it was still an honour to have the opportunity to host the final at home.

"Occasions like this are exactly what we play for — the chance to represent the people of our region on the big stage and play in front of our friends and family at home," he said.

"We’ve prepared well and enjoyed the week together. This is a team that really cares and will work hard for one another on Saturday night. The Chiefs will come to Christchurch with plenty of confidence, and we’re going to have to dig deep."

Damian McKenzie (centre) warms up during a Chiefs training session yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Damian McKenzie (centre) warms up during a Chiefs training session yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
The Chiefs will set some kind of record if they win, having lost every game in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition last year.

The side lost its first couple of games this season but has come right and won five in a row before losing to the Blues in a meaningless game last weekend.

The team needs to stay composed and simply not make mistakes. It has peddled the usual line this week of it being just another week, but the side has to come out firing and put the pressure on the home team.

Chiefs first five-eighth Bryn Gatland will be a key man and if he can direct traffic to the right areas the Chiefs are in with a chance. They have high-quality loose forwards and a solid defensive line.

Cloud with a little wind is forecast for Christchurch today.

- By Steve Hepburn

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