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Sunwolves face tough first opponent in NZ

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Lynn McConnell     13 Apr 2017     Getty Images

They face a tough task meeting the Crusaders, fresh from a bye week and with the return of several players back from longer-term injuries.

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That was acknowledged by coach Scott Robertson.

He said it was a great boost to have four players back from injury, including All Blacks captain and No.8 Kieran Read.

"He's a great man to have back for us, he's been a long time out and he's excited," he said.

First five-eighths Richie Mo'unga will return as well in a side that has only five players in the 23 starting in the same position as in the side which beat the Waratahs. Mitchell Drummond will be back at halfback while Tim Bateman is at second five-eighths in place of the injured Ryan Crotty.

There was also a chance that two more debutants could have a run off of the bench, both of them products of the Tasman region with Quinten Strange possibly celebrating his call-up to the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians side to play the British & Irish Lions while Andrew Makalio could debut at hooker

The decision to include Seta Tamanivalu on one wing and his nephew Manasa Mataele on the other was a special occasion for them, the side and their village in Fiji.

Robertson also paid tribute to Wyatt Crockett, who will become the most capped Super Rugby player at the weekend when making his 176th appearance for the Crusaders.

Robertson said 'special' was probably a good word to describe him because he had given the side so much over the years.

"Obviously with his mind and body but also with his soul. He's a great man and he brings a lot to the team in many ways. He's got a great nature, is professional and plays every game like his last. For a bloke who is 34-years-old you would never know it. It's a special moment for him and his family and we're glad he can do it at home and in front of them," he said.