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Round 10 Game Preview v Chiefs

This one’s a goodie. Hotly anticipated by fans and players alike, any clash with the Chiefs is huge. It’s also Sam Whitelock’s 350th First Class game and Quinten Strange’s 50th in a Crusaders jersey. Big milestones for men who are important members of the Crusaders whanau. 


Whitelock and Strange will be the first to say that milestones are one thing, and results are the other. The Chiefs are on an eight-game winning streak, currently unbeaten in Super Rugby Pacific ’23, and when we played them in Christchurch at the start of the season we lost. For many in the Crusaders camp, this is a must-win. 


The Chiefs are fielding eight capped All Blacks for the fixture, while the Crusaders are fielding 10. It may as well be a showcase match for Rugby World Cup selectors with just 19 weeks until the boys head to France for the big dance.  


All eyes are on FMG Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday night.  

Team News 


The big return has got to be Oli Jager, sidelined since late in the ’22 NPC season with injury. His rehab was ahead of schedule and he’s back in time to make an impact off the bench.  


Leicester Fainga’anuku is back after a few rounds sidelined with some calf niggles. He dons the 11 jersey, expect speed and finesse on the wing. 


Dallas McLeod earnt his selection at 14 after a great season so far, straightening the attack and regularly breaking defensive lines. 


Last time we met 


We faced the Chiefs in Round 1 of the ’23 competition, losing at home 31-10. As Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson said at the time it was a game of “small margins” where the Chiefs capitalised on mistakes.  


More recently, Crusaders Assistant Coach and recently appointed future All Blacks Assistant Coach Scott Hansen said the Chiefs were “the best side in the competition right now”, so this match against them with six rounds still to go will be a litmus test for how the Crusaders team is tracking. 



Match ups 


Where to even start with this one.  


Two of the most in-form first fives in world rugby face off on Saturday. Damian McKenzie for the Chiefs, Richie Mo’unga for the Crusaders. There’s a seat on the bus in France with someone’s name on it and matches like this are the biggest auditions. 


Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick are a world-famous locking pair for the All Blacks, facing off this weekend in different coloured shirts.  


Halfback Brad Weber returns for the Chiefs, squaring off against Mitchell Drummond in the red and black. 


Crusader Tom Christie will be looking across the paddock at current All Blacks Captain Sam Cane, while fullbacks Fergus Burke and Shaun Stevenson will be under the high ball. 


David Havili and keen-eyed Crusader fans will recognise his corresponding 12 for the Chiefs. Rameka Poihipi played one game for the Crusaders in 2018 and continues to play for Canterbury in the NPC with his last appearance in 2022. 


There’s everything to play for this week as we get stuck into the business end of Super Rugby Pacific ’23. The table leaders are pulling away and it’s important we keep up the pace. Bring on the Chiefs on Saturday. 


Key info 

Kickoff: 7.05pm Saturday 29 April   

Where: FMG Stadium, Hamilton 

Referee: Angus Gardner