This weekend presents us with one of the most enticing Super Rugby clashes as the champions, Crusaders take on the exciting Hurricanes.
Crusaders are favourites playing at home and with the Hurricanes missing star All Black, Beauden Barrett who only returned to training on Monday.
- Jordan Taufua v Reed Prinsep
Two very talented players match up in this crunch tie. Jordan Taufua is set to be New Zealand’s next import to England with Leicester Tigers snapping up the flanker.
Taufua’s most high profile appearance to date was when the Barbarians played South Africa at Wembley in 2016, the game ending in a 31-31 draw.
For Reed Prinsep this will be somewhat a homecoming considering he played his NPC rugby for Canterbury. Prinsep is less experienced than Taufua at Super Rugby level but certainly has the pace and physicality to match the rampaging Crusader.
2. Richie Mo’unga v Fletcher Smith
The Crusaders fly-half was the in-form player at the end of last season as he guided his team to a second successive title under Scott Robertson. Mo’unga’s kicking skills and game management earned him his first All Black call-up.
For Fletcher Smith this will be a tough one, the 23 year old has just one Super Rugby appearance to his name and Beuaden Barrett’s boots are big ones to fill for the youngster.
It will be interesting to see if the young ten can hold his own against one of the best players in the league in this high pressure, high stakes game.
3. Matt Todd v Dane Coles
Not a positional battle but the two captains will be going head to head. Matt Todd is one of the less celebrated Crusaders players who has been pivotal for his franchises success. He is a traditional open side, strong at the breakdown and a master on the floor. Todd leads by example and he’ll need to inspire his team to beat a very competent Hurricanes outfit.
This is some test of Coles leadership, the hooker is brilliant. Just exceptional at his best, he runs well, tackles physically and leads exceptionally.
It will be interesting to see which captain plays to the referee early on as that could effect how the game is played.
This will be a close one and definitely one of the biggest games this season. Two franchises that are sure to have play-off ambitions for the end of the season.