When head coach Scott Robertson speaks of Matt Todd, he is glowing of the players resolve. Robertson has said that Matt Todd volunteered for ‘active duty’. And like a soldier, the Crusader loose forward knows that his team need him in the trenches this weekend.
The ‘game of the weekend’ – no disrespect to the 6 Nations – anytime the Hurricanes face the Crusaders, the teams are in for combat. So having a trooper like Matt Todd; broken thumb and all, would make his head coach very happy.
“He trained really well on Tuesday, and he’s functioning well, and the surgeon’s happy to give him the clearance, and more importantly, Matt Todd’s keen.”
Not only his coach, but his captain; Sam Whitelock, was also full of praise for the heart of Matt Todd. “He’s always going to put the team first so if he’s ready to go, he’ll get out there, and if not, he won’t – it just shows how tough he is as a man, and it’s nice to have him out there,” Whitelock told media in Christchurch.
Big names always turn up. And the All Black loosie will know that even if it is a minor break on his thumb, he will need to put any discomfort to the back of his mind. However, for commentators, even if Matt Todd is imitating Lazarus, injuries must be considered.
Recent injuries have played their part, more so for the visitors. Two major figures removed; Pete Samu and ‘critically’ Richie Mo’unga, it means the home side will be the biggest challenge so far for the 2017 champion Crusaders.
Matt Todd shows resolve to be named in Crusaders squad: HURvCRU
Mitchell Hunt will start at first-five for the injured Richie Mo’unga, while Heiden Bedwell-Curtis will start in the six jersey in place of Peter Samu.
Bedwell-Curtis will now pair Todd and Jordan Taufua, in their contest at the breakdown. An area that has always been a confrontation point, yet with the recent changes to laws it has altered the usual tactic. A man who usually burrows into the tackle area, how Todd address the new laws that a player must enter ‘the gate’ could rule his impact.
And while adjustments must be made by all 30 men on the park, the ability to steal ball will be only one important factor. So both teams having a 92% plus success rate at the ruck gives little opportunity for a turnover. It will be tight…..as fans are accustomed to.
Each #HURvCRU match has only been separated by an average of six points. So that could be as much as two penalty kicks. Golden opportunities to place kick, or as the trend is, go for the lineout option. Setpiece ball will be vital, and Scott Robertson will recall the issues his team encountered in 2017.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) March 7, 2018
Tackle Area will be the ‘break even’ point in #HURvCRU
Brad Shields, Ardie Savea and new import Gareth Evans have not quite got their combinations right. At times they showed some efficiencies against the Jaguares, but ball retention was a key failure. Securing ball on Saturday night is key. And in the tackle area, the ability to switch from defence to attack is a key tool for many Crusaders tries so far.
While the Crusaders are good at counter attack, the visitors are too. That is well publicized. “Any team in this competition, you give them easy pill and they’ll burn you, score from anywhere – the Canes are the team that sum that up,” Whitelock said.
Whitelock is a tireless worker. He will be just as critical, as the restored Matt Todd will be. In as much as the visitors will need to overturn recent results, they will also need to look to ‘overturn’ ball. To get inside the Hurricanes game plan. And if the visitors can upset the plans of Chris Boyd, they can halt the celebrations of Beauden Barrett’s 100th Super Rugby match.
Do that, and the return match in Week 15 will be circled as ‘competition defining’.
80 minutes on Saturday look set to hold many rugby fans attention. No doubt, both teams will perform to the highest standards. #HURvCRU will surely be topnotch.
Hurricanes v Crusaders – Saturday March 10, Westpac Stadium, 7:35pm (NZT)
CRUSADERS: David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Mitch Hunt, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Sam Whitelock (c), Scott Barrett, Mike Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett
Reserves: Ben Funnell, Chris King, Oliver Jager, Luke Romano, Billy Harmon, Mitchell Drummond, Mike Delany, Manasa Mataele
HURRICANES: Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Gareth Evans, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields (c), Sam Lousi, Vaea Fifita, Ben May, Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Fraser Armstrong, Marcel Renata, Michael Fatialofa, Blade Thomson, Richard Judd, Ihaia West, Vince Aso
“Main photo credit”
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