What lies in store for the Crusaders this season?
Reece, Aumua, Bower and Fihaki set to start for the Saders against the Chiefs

What lies in store for the Crusaders this season?

Reece, Aumua, Bower and Fihaki set to start for the Saders against the Chiefs

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 23/02/2024
Sevu Reece [Photo: Super Rugby Aotearoa], Levi Aumua [Photo:Crusadersrugbyteam], George Bower [Photo: Super Rugby] and Chay Fihaki [Photo: Super Rugby Aotearoa]

As four players with links to Fiji, Sevu Reece, Levi Aumua, George Bower and Chay Fihaki start for the Crusaders against the Chiefs tonight, there is arguably no bigger question mark hanging over a Super Rugby franchise than the one hovering over the Crusaders as their coach, Scott Robertson has taken over the All Blacks coach’s job.

Robertson also took assistant coach Scott Hansen with him, while long-serving players Richie Mo’unga, Sam Whitelock and Jack Goodhue have also moved on.

So how will the all-conquering Crusaders, winners of seven titles in as many years under Robertson, fare now that he’s in charge of the All Blacks?

New Crusaders coach Rob Penney has told stuff.co.nz that he is very excited, the reason being it’s a bit of a line in the sand for them.

Penney, who gave Robertson his first shot at coaching when he was in charge of Canterbury in 2008, appeared almost as relaxed as his predecessor typically was.

He says this isn't the same team as last year.

Penney says the Chiefs are touting it as a bit of a grudge match, a bit of a rematch of the final.

He says the Crusaders are not going there, because it's not.

The new coach says this is a new season and a new group, and it's an opportunity for this team, the 2024 version, to see where they are at.

The schedule-makers haven’t exactly been kind to Penney, given the Crusaders will play four of their first five games away from home, with two of them against sides (Chiefs and Blues) tipped to halt the red and blacks’ dominance of the competition.

Injuries also haven’t been kind. Just days after Penney took over the team, centre Braydon Ennor suffered a knee injury while playing for the All Blacks and will miss the season.

Including fullback Will Jordan (shoulder), who will also miss the campaign, Fergus Burke (Achilles) and Ethan Blackadder (calf), a bunch of other important players are also sidelined.

Chiefs: Shaun Stevenson, Liam Coombes-Fabling, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Damian McKenzie, Xavier Roe, Luke Jacobson (capt), Kaylum Boshier, Samipeni Finau, Tupou Vaa’i, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Reuben O’Neill, Bradley Slater, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ollie Norris, George Dyer, Jimmy Tupou, Simon Parker, Cortez Ratima, Josh Ioane, Daniel Rona.

Crusaders: Chay Fihaki, Sevu Reece, Levi Aumua, Dallas McLeod, Macca Springer, Rivez Reihana, Mitchell Drummond, Cullen Grace, Tom Christie, Dominic Gardiner, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett (capt), Tamaiti Williams, George Bell, George Bower. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Joe Moody, Owen Franks, Jamie Hannah, Christian Lio-Willie, Noah Hotham, Taha Kemara, Ryan Crotty.

Source : stuff.co.nz

Round 10

DateTimeTeamTeam
Fri 26 Apr7:05PMCrusaders - Rebels
9:35PMWaratahs - Chiefs
Sat 27 Apr2:05PMFijian Drua - Moana Pacifika
4:35PMBrumbies - Hurricanes
7:05PMHighlanders - Force
9:35PMReds - Blues
Click here for more fixtures

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