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Crusaders machine taking shape

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Lynn McConnell     08 May 2018     Getty Images

He is fit for selection and is likely to feature in Saturday's home Investec Super Rugby game against the Waratahs.

Crusaders assistant coach Jason Ryan said Moody played club rugby and got 60 minutes of play and was feeling good.

"It will be a boost [to the side]. We always enjoy having our All Blacks back, especially a destructive scrummager like Joe and there's good competition for all our looseheads at the moment."

Whether he started or came off the bench would be a decision based on his training during the week.

"He's looking really positive and he's really going to be available for selection," Ryan said.

Moody had been ready to play a month ago but then injured his finger.

While frustrating he had shown his resilience and had got himself in top condition with a good mindset to be ready to play, he said.

Fellow All Black Owen Franks who came back from his own longer term injury a few weeks back had been settling back into the side and Ryan felt he produced his best effort since returning against the Rebels in Melbourne.

"We're really happy and proud for Owen with how he's come back," he said.

Other players were also close to returning. Fullback David Havili was going through HIA protocols, lock Luke Romano had started running on Monday and Israel Dagg was improving and could be ready in two to three weeks.

Romano had injured his ankle at training before the Crusaders headed to Australia to play the Brumbies and Rebels and the injury had not looked good, however, Ryan said it had settled down and there was a much more positive feeling about it but it would take a week or two to know for certain.

Looking to the weekend against the Waratahs he said it was a very important game because of the quality of their forward pack.

"They had huge physicality [against the Blues], they're a tough forward pack. I thought Michael Hooper was outstanding. He's got the most tackles in Super Rugby at the moment and he was good on the ball. I thought the work rate of their tight five was very, very good," he said.

Ryan said the media, weren't doing the Crusaders any favours writing off all the Australian teams.

"Sooner or later it's going to change, there's six Wallabies in their forward pack, they're a good pack and we'll respect them," he said.

There was a traditional rivalry between the two sides and the Waratahs prided themselves on their lineout, and their scrum had been competitive, Ryan said.

Against that the Crusaders had taken some confidence from their effort up front against the Rebels which he rated their best scrummaging performance and they were looking forward to the test against the Waratahs.

The Crusaders had been putting a lot of work into their scrum over the past month and were finding a rhythm to their scrummaging and Ryan was happy with how they were going.

They had played each other in finals before and they remembered that and the physicality the Waratahs had produced