We’re halfway through the season team, and it’s game day in Christchurch. The Crusaders take on Moana Pasifika at Orangetheory Stadium on 7 April, kick off 7.05pm.
The main event of the evening? Richie Mo’unga – one of the game’s greatest playmakers – is playing his 100th game for the Crusaders. A huge moment for him, a huge moment for the franchise.
If you want to experience the Crusaders culture, the way they celebrate their centurions, be at this game.
In other news, Wil Gualter earns his first start for the team, his hands expected to be full defending against Timoci Tavatavanawai who leads the ’23 competition for defenders beaten.
Melani Nanai is set to make an impact off the bench, the first time he’ll be pulling on the red and black jersey since joining the team in late ’22.
Eager-eyed fans will note Tom Christie occupying space on the bench for the first time this season – he’s played every minute so far this year, now ready to make an impact later in the game.
Last time we met
Crusaders last played Moana in their debut season in ’22, meeting them at Forsyth Barr in Round 3. The South Islanders scored five tries compared to two from Moana. Final score was 33-12.
If you’re paying attention you’ll notice Abraham Pole on the Moana bench – he played two games for the Crusaders last season and scored a try in the 70th. He’s since joined Moana and earned 10 caps.
Same story for Isi Tu’ungafasi who earned 12 caps for the Crusaders before shifting north to Moana Pasifika in ’22.
Mitchell Drummond will recognise his counterpart across the scrum on Friday – none other than former Crusader Ereatara Enari. Moana’s No. 9 earned nine caps for the Crusaders between ’17-’21 before shifting to Moana in ’22.
Jack Goodhue comes up against Levi Aumua in the midfield, a big re-introduction for the All Black who’s been sidelined by injury for the last few rounds. Aumua sits behind Tavatavanawai in defenders beaten for the ’23 season.
Not so much a match up but something to keep your eye on – Crusader David Havili’s younger brother William Havili sits at fullback for Moana Pasifika.
Kick-off: 7.05pm (NZT)
Venue: Orangetheory Stadium
Tickets: GET YOUR TICKETS HERE
Where to watch: BROADCAST GUIDE HERE
Richie’s 100th game – expect celebrations