Pepesana Patafilo has been named in the playing 23 to face the Blues in Auckland on Saturday 18 March.
Far from his Super Rugby debut, it’ll be the 26-year-old winger’s first proper Crusaders cap. He opened the scoring at the Farmlands Cup, the franchise’s pre-season game versus the Highlanders in Weston.
So how did he feel about being named in the squad to head north for Round 4 of Super Rugby Pacific 2023?
“I was surprised to be honest, when I saw my name on the board, but now just really excited,” he said.
Patafilo moved south with his family after starting his Super Rugby career with the Hurricanes in 2021. He was in the Wellington College First XV and played for Tawa RFC before debuting at NPC level with Wellington in 2019.
He joined the Crusaders camp in late 2022 and at the time said “when you get a call from Razor it’s pretty hard to say no”.
“I’m just tyrying to be the best me, I’m not really trying to be anyone. I’m more just trying to improve myself so whatever happens, happens.”
He said the same when thinking about facing the Blues on Saturday.
“I’m just here to do my job, and if any opportunities arise then I’ll take them,” he said.
He commended the “genuine people and good connection” in the Crusaders environment.
“The attention to detail here has really stood out for me. Scotty Hansen is always putting up clips every day for people to look at when you walk in.
“That’s why it’s so good here, the culture. You can always get better.”
As a winger, Patafilo said his focus of late had been “scanning”.
“On the wing you can see things from afar, so you can voice it before the ball gets out to you. That plays a big role in our attack, our outsides being able to voice what they see.”
Patafilo starts on the bench on Saturday, hoping to earn some minutes at Eden Park.