Chiefs ready for another Crusaders epic

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Lynn McConnell     23 Feb 2018     Getty Images

The two sides have been highly competitive in their recent meetings and more of the same is likely in Christchurch on Saturday evening.

New assistant coach Tabai Matson, a Crusaders playing veteran and former assistant coach, said the Chiefs have prepared well and are looking to quickly make their mark in 2018.


Matson said the halfback-first five-eighths pairing of Brad Weber and Damian McKenzie was looking better and better with each training session.

They looked slick but the Crusaders loose forward trio, and their set piece would be a better measure of how they were going.

"At this stage they are travelling really well and the combination is building," he said.

So far as his own feelings were concerned heading back to home territory, Matson said he was looking forward to catching up with family and friends but there was a job for the Chiefs to do and that was what he was concentrating on.

The selection of Mitchell Brown on the blindside of the scrum was down to the good form he had been showing during the pre-season and also his ability to move into lock later in the game when the likes of Liam Messam could be introduced.

"One of the things we are really conscious of is finishing strongly. You have to finish strongly against the Crusaders and making sure you are bringing on some heavy cavalry is a really important part and bringing on Atu Moli and Liam Messam definitely helps in that category," he said.
The Chiefs have opted to play Taleni Seu at No.8, having played most of his earlier rugby on the blindside flank. He had an impressive pre-season and brought an interesting skill set to the back of the scrum, Matson said.

"We're all keen to see how that goes at Super level. I'm really excited for him with his skill and his speed in particular and I think it is something that is a point of difference. I'm really looking forward to how he goes on Saturday night against a pretty formidable loose forward trio," he said.

Seu had the skill sets to handle the task and the important thing for him would be building during the sort of pressure test the 80 minutes against the Crusaders would impose.

The absence of Tim Nanai-Williams due to a shoulder injury, which is still awaiting a confirmed assessment, had led the coaches to consider the option of playing Charlie Ngatai at fullback.

"We thought it was really critical having his voice at the back. He's been running really well. He played all his early rugby back there and he's looked really sharp and we're excited about what he could do back there," he said.

His voice would be important in the rearguard among the younger players there.

Matson said prop Kane Hames had not been considered for the game as he was ill earlier in the week and only returned to training on Thursday.